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Music Sales Skyrocket After Super Bowl Halftime Performances

5 minute read | January 2013

The Super Bowl halftime performance, not to mention the commercials, often garners as much buzz as the game itself. According to new research from Nielsen, which compared digital track purchases in the week after Super Bowl over the last couple of years with purchases the week before, one thing’s for certain: being a halftime performer directly translates into high-performance music sales.

“Regardless of the performer’s age or whether the songs are ‘oldies but goodies’ or new, a song featured during the Super Bowl halftime show can yield an exponential jump in sales, as music fans discover—or rediscover—an artist and their songs,” said David Bakula, SVP of Client Insights at Nielsen.

Super Bowl XLVI (Feb. 5, 2012) – Madonna

Madonna, last year’s Super Bowl headliner, performed popular hits and new tracks. The largest post-Super Bowl increase in digital track purchases came from “Like a Prayer” (2,437%) and “Music (feat. LMFAO)” (1,597%). Madonna also introduced a new track, “Give Me All Your Luvin,” a collaboration with rappers Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. The week after the game, consumers purchased more than 165,000 digital copies of the song, the second-most post-Super Bowl purchases among the songs performed, behind “I’m Sexy and I Know It (Madonna and LMFAO)” (170,000 digital tracks purchased).

Super Bowl XLV (Feb. 6, 2011) – Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Peas performed during the 2011 Super Bowl halftime show, and then band members Fergie and will.i.am sang duets with Slash and Usher, respectively. The week prior to the game, consumers purchased and downloaded close to 196,000 digital tracks of the combined eight songs performed by the band and its members. Purchases of those songs more than doubled in the week following the game (406,000). The Black Eyed Peas songs with the largest increase in sales the week following Super Bowl 2011 were “Where Is The Love?” and “Pump It,” as consumers purchased 11 and five times the amount purchased the week before the game, respectively.

Super Bowl XLIV (Feb. 7, 2010) – The Who

Classic rock band The Who performed five songs in 2010, and digital sales of all of them spiked in the week after the game. The performance had a significant impact on digital sales as consumers quadrupled their post-Super Bowl purchases of each of those titles the week after the game: 12,000 digital purchases vs. 59,000, a 396 percent increase the week after the Super Bowl. “Who Are You” garnered the biggest lift in digital track sales, as consumers purchased 15,000 digital tracks the week after the game, 586 percent more than the just over 2,100 digital tracks the week prior to the game.

Super Bowl Halftime Performances, 2010-2012

Digital Track Purchases Week After v. Week Before Super Bowl

Super Bowl Halftime Performer Total Purchases Week Before Super Bowl Total Purchases Week After Super Bowl % Change in Purchases
Super Bowl XLVI (2/5/12) Madonna (9 songs) 197,000 522,000 165%
Super Bowl XLV (2/6/11) Black Eyed Peas (8 songs) 196,000 406,000 108%
Super Bowl XLIV (2/7/10) The Who (5 songs) 12,000 59,000 396%
Source: Nielsen

2012 Super Bowl Halftime Performance (Madonna)

Digital Track Purchases Week After v. Week Before Super Bowl

Artist Song % Change in Purchases
Madonna Vogue 1033%
Madonna, LMFAO Music 1597%
Madonna, LMFAO Party Rock Anthem 33%
Madonna, LMFAO Sexy And I Know It 51%
Madonna, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A Give Me All Your Luvin n/a
Madonna, Cee Lo Green Open Your Heart 529%
Madonna, Cee Lo Green Express Yourself 573%
Madonna, Cee Lo Green Like A Prayer 2437%
Source: Nielsen

2011 Super Bowl Halftime Performance (Black Eyed Peas) Digital Track Purchases Week After v. Week Before Super Bowl
Artist Song % Change in Purchases
Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling 90%
Black Eyed Peas Boom Boom Pow 158%
Black Eyed Peas Pump It 398%
Black Eyed Peas Let’s Get It Started 223%
Black Eyed Peas Where Is The Love? 1006%
Black Eyed Peas The Time 33%
Slash, Fergie Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses) 260%
Usher, will.i.am OMG 156%
Source: Nielsen

2010 Super Bowl Halftime Performance (The Who)

Digital Track Purchases Week After v. Week Before Super Bowl

Artist Song % Change in Purchases
The Who Pinball Wizard 314%
The Who Baba O’Reilly 377%
The Who Who Are You 586%
The Who See Me, Feel Me 347%
The Who Won’t Get Fooled Again 338%
Source: Nielsen

Commercial Song Success

Commercials and movie trailers during the 2012 Super Bowl are also inspiring increased digital music purchases. “Smokescreen” by Willis, which was featured in an ad for Fiat, and the Jay-Z/R. Kelly collaboration “Don’t Let Me Die,” used in the commercial for the movie G.I. Joe: Retaliation, were among the top three songs in commercials that gained the most digital sales traction after the game. Capping off the top three was “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness, featured in a Samsung spot. Prior to the 2012 Super Bowl, the song, released in 2003, had been purchased as a digital download over 1,000 times. After the game, however, consumers increased their purchases by 30 times that amount in the week after the game.

2012 Super Bowl Commercials Featuring Popular Songs

Digital Track Purchases Week After v. Week Before Super Bowl

Brand Artist Song % Change in Purchases
Fiat Willis Smokescreen 7400%
G.I. Joe: Retaliation Jay Z & R. Kelly Don’t Let Me Die 3590%
Samsung The Darkness I Believe in a Thing Called Love 2884%
NFL Maino Ft. Swizz Beatz Million Bucks 2293%
Chevy fun. We Are Young 628%
Kia The Chordettes Mr. Sandman 428%
Audi Echo & The Bunnymen The Killing Moon 354%
Kia Motley Crue Kickstart My Heart 333%
H&M The Animals Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood 324%
Chevy Barry Manilow Looks Like We Made It 188%
M&Ms LMFAO Sexy And I Know It 51%
Sketchers Tone Loc Wild Thing 30%
Honda Yello Oh Yeah 29%
Bud Lite Platinum Avicii Levels 13%
Source: Nielsen

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