Blog and Social Networks Can Boost Music Sales

Posted on February 12, 2008

A study conducted by researchers from New York University's Stern Business School found that online buzz from blogs and social networks can boost album sales.
The amount of online "chatter" about an upcoming album release directly correlates to higher physical album sales, according to two researchers with New York University's Stern Business School. Professor Vasant Dhar and former student Elaine Chang observed the trends of 108 albums released during the first two months of 2007 to see how different outside elements affected (or predicted) sales once the albums became available, and found that all of them had some effect or another. But certain elements of online chatter-namely blogs and social networks-seemed to be fairly accurate predictors of future success.
A post on Ars Technica discussing the study says the researchers found that positive blog posts are most strongly correlated to stronger album sales - providing the blog posts are made by legitimate bloggers. The study also found that albums from both major labels and independents benefit from blog exposure.
The researchers followed the Amazon sales ranks for each of the 108 albums over a period of eight weeks (they said that Nielsen SoundScan stats would have been ideal, but they are costly and proprietary), as well as articles, blog postings, and MySpace friend counts about them. The blogosphere appeared to be most strongly correlated to better album sales-if 40 or more legitimate (written by normal people and not by marketers) blog posts were made before an album's release, sales ended up being three times the average.

That trend doesn't just apply to music from the Big Four, either. Albums from independent labels enjoyed the same level of success. But if an album was from a Big Four record label, sales increased five-fold after 40 legit blog posts. If blog posts crossed 250, album sales turned out to be six times the average, regardless of label.
Ars Technica says the study also found that more MySpace friends on a band's MySpace page meant more album sales but the impact was weaker than the impact from positive blog posts. But blogs and social media still can't trump a great review in a publication like Rolling Stone.

The study probably won't surprise anyone who reads music blogs but it does help prove that blogs are important when it comes to marketing music. If you really want to get the blogs and social media site users talking about your band or music the best way may be to come up with a crazy new dance fad and upload it to YouTube. That should work until people get tired of it.
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