Music empires aren’t easy to build

‘Empire’ aside, the dramas can fall on deaf ears

- Bill Keveney @billkev USA TODAY

TV programmer­s are big fans of shows about the music business, but it’s not exactly turning into a collection of greatest hits.

Fox’s Empire has been a charttoppe­r, but HBO pulled the needle from Vinyl after one season, and Showtime’s Roadies began its summer tour Sunday with a tiny audience (348,000) of same-day viewers. Nashville, never a hit, was canceled by ABC after four seasons, but CMT — spurred by the show’s small but devoted fan base — picked it up for a fifth.

Shows that go behind the scenes of the music business offer great potential: drama inherent in a high-stakes, high-dollar industry where excess often is rewarded; appeal to a younger audience of music fans; and a great environmen­t for captivatin­g original soundtrack­s that can be broken into shorter clips.

A big success often leads to a copycat flurry of similar but lesser shows, and David Bushman, television curator at the Paley Center for Media, sees evidence of that in these tune-filled series.

“One thing that started this was the (initial) success of Glee, and now with Empire, you have two extremely successful shows that are very much talked about. TV programmer­s say, ‘How do we get in on this?’ ” he says. But “you’ll see more often than not that it doesn’t work.”

Big-name performers and directors can be a draw, too. Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese produced Vinyl; Almost Famous director Cameron Crowe created

Roadies; and 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) is featured in Starz’s

Power. But marquee names don’t guarantee success.

Here’s a look at TV’s summer music tour, along with a couple of upcoming acts:

 ?? CHUCK HODES, FOX ?? Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard preside over Fox’s chart-topping Empire.
CHUCK HODES, FOX Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard preside over Fox’s chart-topping Empire.

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