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Winner Weigh In: Is Consumption Worth its Weight in GRAMMY Gold?
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Winner Weigh In: Is Consumption Worth its Weight in GRAMMY Gold?

By David Bakula, SVP Nielsen Entertainment

From a gripping show-starter by music’s power-couple Beyoncé and Jay Z, to the historic on-screen wedding (presided over by Queen Latifah and Madonna), this year’s 56th GRAMMY Awards found new ways to surprise, electrify and get its audience talking. Over 28.5 million viewers tuned in to music’s biggest night in the U.S.–the second largest audience for the awards broadcast since 1993. In the few hours of performances and awards, music devotees were exposed to some of the best in the industry. And they took to social media to express their thoughts. Twitter saw more than 15.2 million GRAMMY-related tweets during the Eastern and Central time zone broadcasts.

So what happens when we factor in sales, airplay and streaming? Did the most consumed artists end up with the awards? Let’s take a look.

Album of the Year

Among the albums in this category, Taylor Swift’s album Red, released Oct. 22, 2012 has racked up the most sales to date with almost 4 million units sold. Across radio airplay, the record’s songs have reached nearly 1.2 million radio spins and over 279 million streams. Based on sales, streaming and airplay as categories, Red is the clear winner with consumers across the board.

And the winner is…

Still, Daft Punk’s album Random Access Memories, released May 21, 2013, took home the GRAMMY. Daft Punk’s album has sold 892,000 units, and songs from the album have been spun nearly 458,000 times on the radio and streamed over 210 million times so far. For the week ending Jan. 26 only a few hours after the telecast, sales of the album increased 91% over the prior week.

But, even the nominees that didn’t win saw their album sales increase. Taylor Swift, who performed her song “All Too Well” and danced the night away, saw sales of Red increase 105 percent over the prior week. Sara Bareilles, who performed with Carole King, had sales of her nominated album The Blessed Unrest increase by 92 percent compared to the week before. And Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, whose album The Heist was nominated in the category, took home GRAMMY awards for four other categories and provided the soundtrack for the evening’s nuptials. So, despite being bested by Daft Punk for Album of the Year, The Heist sales increased by 38 percent from the prior week. Finally, Kendrick Lamar’s album good kid, m.A.A.d city increased 63 percent vs. the week before—no doubt fueled by his performance with Imagine Dragons.

Record of the Year

This category honors the team of people who help create the recording of a single song. Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive, released May 3, 2013, has earned the second highest sales to date with nearly 6.3 million and has the highest streams to date at 185 million. Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams’ “Blurred Lines” released March 26, 2013, had the most sales activity in this category with song sales over 6.7 million, as well as 149 million streams to date.

And the winner is…

Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams took home another GRAMMY for their song “Get Lucky,” which they performed during the show with Williams and Stevie Wonder. And the song’s sales increased by 206% vs. the prior week, while streams on GRAMMY Sunday alone were up 143%compared to the prior Sunday across Nielsen’s entire panel of streaming providers. Since its release, the song has sold over 3.1 million digital songs and has over 121 million streams to date. But, again, even the nominees were winners, based on their performances and exposure. Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (+58% digital sales vs. prior week), Lorde’s “Royals” (+17%), Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” (+62%) and Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams’ “Blurred Lines” (+34%) have all showed significant sales increases over the prior week, despite only a few hours of sales after the GRAMMYs’ aired.

Song of the Year

This category honors the songwriting skills for a single song. The song with the most activity in this category is Lorde’s hit, “Royals” with 4.9 million song sales (the highest out of all in this category) and 141.8 million streams.

And the winner is…

Lorde’s “Royals,” the consumers’ favorite, took home the GRAMMY for Song of the Year. As mentioned, sales of the song “Royals” have already increased by 17 percent over the prior week and streams were 26% higher on Sunday over the prior Sunday. Again, most of this category’s nominees were big winners, with P!nk feat. Nate Ruess’ “Just Give Me a Reason” (digital sales +69% over last week) and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” (+128%) showing the biggest increases.

Best New Artist

This category highlights some of music’s most important emerging artists and can be a springboard to a long and storied music career. Winners have included the likes of The Beatles, Carly Simon, Natalie Cole, Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 and Adele. In the category this year, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have had great success with their Album of the Year nominated The Heist, with nearly 1.3 million sales of the album and over 118 million streams each for “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us.” Kendrick Lamar, whose latest album good kid, m.A.A.d. city has sold over 1.1 million units, has also had a great year. Ed Sheeran’s + album has sold over 763,000 units, and multiple winner Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park has sold just over 315,000 units. James Blake’s album Overgrown has received wide critical acclaim and has surpassed 55,000 sales.

And the winner is…

The most successful wedding planners in history, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis took home the gold gramophone for Best New Artist. In this case, winner Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won the category along with top sales, streaming and airplay. But, as we’ve seen in the past, even a Best New Artist nomination can be a sign of great things to come for an artist. Past nominees for this award who didn’t win but have had successful careers include Mumford & Sons, Justin Bieber, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, John Mayer and Shania Twain.

Strong sales and spins didn’t necessarily secure nominated artists a win, but for many of these major categories, sales, airplay, and streams was a strong indicator of how the voting would go. Ultimately, all these nominees will win sales. Also, while the televised awards and performances provided a lift in consumption for the artists that viewers see during the broadcast, even the non-televised awards can increase sales significantly. For example, Vampire Weekend won the GRAMMY for Best Alternative Music Album for their album Modern Vampires of the City, and sales have already increased by 9 percent over the prior week, without the benefit of performance or televised award. Clearly, the GRAMMY Awards carry with them great exposure and respect and can move music fans to consume more of their favorite nominees, performers and winners.