'Popstars' top the charts. But what's in it for them?

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The Independent Culture

The manufactured pop band Hear'Say shot straight to the top of the charts last night, scoring the fastest-selling début single of all time and closing the first chapter of a showbiz fairytale that has hypnotised the British public.

The manufactured pop band Hear'Say shot straight to the top of the charts last night, scoring the fastest-selling début single of all time and closing the first chapter of a showbiz fairytale that has hypnotised the British public.

Their single, Pure and Simple, sold 550,000 copies in the first week. It easily took the UK top-spot from Uptown Girl, the Comic Relief offering from the Irish boy band Westlife.

The single beat the record for fastest-selling single held by the American pop singer Britney Spears. Her single, Baby One More Time, sold 464,000 copies in the first week of its release in the UK in 1999.

Hear'Say, who were selected and groomed by the ITV "real life" programme Popstars, spent the past week making a gruelling series of personal appearances across the country to promote the single. There were scenes of hysteria from pre-teen and teenage fans.

But questions were already being asked about how much the five group members would actually profit from their record success. Weekend reports suggested that they would only receive 4p from each single, earning them a pittance compared with the millions that may be earned by the song's writers, the distributors and the record company Polydor.

As the group - Noel Sullivan, Danny Foster, Myleene Klass, Kym Marsh and Suzanne Shaw - were learning of their chart-topping feat on a Popstars live special, the seeds of future discontent were being sown.

"All the Sunday papers are quoting that they are earning this amount of money and that amount of money, but they are still skint," a "close friend" of the band was quoted as saying.

"They don't get their royalties for a year-and-a-half. People assume that they have got money but they are just living on what they've done before."

Granada TV, which makes the ITV ratings-winner, was keen to play down any difficulty, insisting Hear'Say were on a "proper cut".

The company was expecting an audience of 10 million for last night's climax to the series, when the group was told of its chart-topping achievement.

"The financial details I don't know but they are on a percentage system - a proper cut," said a spokesman for Granada. "You have to claw back the expense of recording an album before you can go into profit."

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