There are three things you need to know about why “X Factor” U.K. contestant Lucy Spraggan’s music was abruptly removed from iTunes, Amazon and other retailers on August 27, 2012.
(1) If an “X Factor” contestant has released music independently before auditioning for “The X Factor,” a condition of being on the show is that “The X Factor” can legally require the contestant to no longer make that music available to the public if the contestant has been selected to perform in the show’s live episodes. “The X Factor” has clearly exercised this option (which is in the contracts that “X Factor” contestants sign) to have Spraggan’s music removed. This sudden removal means that Spraggan is one of the Top 16 contestants chosen for the live episodes in 2012, which begin in October. (Spraggan making it into the Top 16 should come as no surprise, since her audition has been one of the most highly praised and most talked-about auditions on “The X Factor” U.K. this year.) At her audition, Spraggan performed an original song that she wrote called “Last Night,” which is on an independent album titled “Top Room at the Zoo” that she released in October 2011, before she was on “The X Factor” U.K.
(2) At 20 years old, Spraggan has become an overnight star who is capable of outselling more established artists, including Taylor Swift and Florence + the Machine, whose recently released singles were being outsold by Spraggan’s “Last Night” on the iTunes chart in the U.K. and Ireland. “X Factor” U.K. 2011 winner Little Mix’s “Wings” has been No. 1 on those iTunes charts since its release on August 26, 2012. However, before Spraggan’s “Last Night” song was removed from iTunes in the U.K. and Ireland, it was very close to displacing Little Mix’s “Wings” from the No. 1 spot. Before the removal from iTunes, “Last Night” had been No. 2 on iTunes in the U.K. and Ireland.
(3) Little Mix is signed to Syco Music, the record company that is co-owned by “The X Factor” executive producer Simon Cowell and Sony Music. Cowell and company just can’t have an unsigned artist outsell an “X Factor” winner. It would be extremely embarrassing. But you know what that means: You can bet that Cowell and company have already decided to sign Spraggan to Syco Music, regardless if she wins on “The X Factor” U.K. or not.
“The X Factor” U.K. and Syco have not commented on the removal of Spraggan’s music, but Spraggan did post this message on her official Facebook page: “Oh dear :( the album is coming offline guys, in preparation for some things coming up… Not my call to make, get it while you can!”
As previously reported, Spraggan (who is an openly gay) told the Daily Mirror that she is hoping her “X Factor” fame can help her find a girlfriend. Based on the number of people who’ve been buying Spraggan’s music since she’s been on “The X Factor,” she now has plenty of fans, admirers and groupies.
August 29, 2012 update: The Official Charts Company reports that even though Spraggan’s music is no longer available for sale, the sales that “Last Night” got are enough for the song to debut in the Top 20 on the U.K.’s singles chart. The official rankings on that chart will be announced on September 2, 2012.