‘Idol’ maker gets labeled

Release is first season alum's debut

“American Idol” creator Simon Fuller has launched 19 Recordings, pacting with Universal Music and Video to distrib the new label.

Imprint will serve as an extension of Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, a music management firm that also produces “American Idol” and the global “Pop Idol” franchise. Tom Ennis, VP of 19 Entertainment, will head up the label.

“This is a logical extension, a piece in the overall puzzle that Simon Fuller is putting together as his vision for 19 Entertainment,” Ennis said. “Artists on the 19 roster may be best served by us releasing their project so we can customize their marketing campaigns.”

First up, 19 Recordings will release the debut album from “American Idol” first season finalist Tamyra Gray, whose entry, “The Dreamer,” drops May 25.

Timed to the release, Gray will appear on “American Idol” on May 19. Fuller signed Gray to his 19 management roster in 2002, soon after she was voted off “Idol.”

Ennis said the label also plans to release albums in the U.S. from U.K. artists and 19 clients such as Emma Bunton.

“Hopefully, we’ll be seen as not just a home for 19 artists that we have nurtured or found through ‘Idol,’ but as a destination point for artists who (fit in with) how we’ve developed the label,” Ennis said.

BMG continues to hold a first-look deal to sign any “Idol” artists, hence its releases by former contestants and winners such as Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Beyond that, 19 is free to release material from any “Idol” star.

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