The compilation of the show’s original music — including appearances from guest stars Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Courtney Love and Estelle — opened atop the Billboard 200 after moving 130,000 units in sales and streams, according to Nielsen Music.
“Empire” marks the first time a TV soundtrack debuted on top of the charts since 2010, when Fox’s high school musical “Glee” had three of its compilations hit No. 1.
Even more impressive, the soundtrack managed to keep pop icon Madonna from the top. The Material Girl’s latest, “Rebel Heart,” opened at No. 2 with 121,000 units (she did come out on top in terms of traditional sales).
“Empire” is the top-rated new series in the highly coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic and is TV’s fastest-growing new drama since Fox’s medical hit “House” more than a decade ago. The show has enjoyed unprecedented audience growth over nine consecutive weeks.
But there was the question of whether or not the show could actually translate that success to its music.
With original music overseen by producer Timbaland (Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake) and partner Jim Beanz, Fox employed a similar model as it had with “Glee.”
The network partnered with Columbia Records to release the music after each episode, and the label also signed breakout stars Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray to solo deals.