Do Bloggers Matter? The answer is YES. Music bloggers can have a striking impact on album sales, an expert on technology and the economy has found.
It turns out that the volume of blog posts before a music album’s release can significantly affect future album sales, according to a research paper entitled, “Does Chatter Matter,” co-authored by New York University – Stern Business School Professor Vasant Dhar and a former student, Elaine Chang. It is said that Professor Dhar is “an expert in the strategic implications of information technology.”
The study showed that there is an increasing share of information on the Internet that is being generated by individuals, not organizations or “experts.” The team wanted to understand how music sales are affected by user-generated content. They explored the effects of blogs and social net-working sites for predicting online music sales.
It has been estimated that 30 percent of the US population considers blogs an important source of information. They are popular because people make connections to others with shared interests. In the study, the professor compared blogs to more traditional information sources such as professional reviews in print or electronic media.
So……….what did the study reveal?
- The most significant variable is blog chatter or the volume of blog posts on an album. The results of this study suggest that user-generated content should be considered seriously by record labels.
- When blog posts exceeded a threshold of 40 before an album’s release, sales were three times the average.
- If the albums blogged about were associated with a major record label, sales increased five-fold.
- When blog posts hit 240, sales went up six times on average.
- The number of the artist’s MySpace or FaceBook friends also contributes to higher future sales, but had a weaker correlation than blog chatter.
The study measured CD sales on Amazon.com over eight weeks and defined major record labels as Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Group and Warner Music Group, which make up approximately 82 per cent of the music market.
They chose consumer reviews posted on Amazon.com and websites “that are, at least anecdotally, considered influential on the music scene:” Pitchfork Media, PopMatters and Stylus Magazine, and online reviews by Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and Allmusic.
Measures of “blog chatter” were captured on the website Technorati. The weekly change in MySpace and FaceBook friends was also factored in, though it was found to be a less reliable measure.
In an interview with the Musical Star, Dhar described music blogging as “electronic word-of-mouth.”
“We were surprised at the importance of it. We expected that the views of the traditional media would count more. But in some cases, blogs were more important than media ratings. Basically, what that suggested is that when it comes to music, people tend to trust people with views similar to them more than (they do) the experts. People who are looking at the world in the same way as you (do) are becoming increasingly important.”
Most blog posts tend to be positive, the researchers found. “Rarely will a blogger feel the need to spend time and effort to write a scathing review.” So a handful of negative reviews or even silence about a release can have a strong impact.
Even though MySpace has less of an impact, the study suggests that the first thing any good PR person should tell an artist is to create a free MySpace music page. Love it or hate it, MySpace is where musicians need to be. The site allows artists to embed music players and showcase their best work so that potentially millions of people can get a taste of the music.
For artists, exposure is more important than money, as crazy as that may sound. Get people’s attention first, build a fan base, and then start selling music.
What does this have to do with Clay Aiken? Well, I believe that it is important to support Clay in as many ways as we can. It is not our job to get in the way of his team of experts, but we can support him by becoming his friend on his MySpacePage and responding to the positive blogs that promote his music and professional career. Clay has about 38,500 friends at his myspace page. Can we make it 40,000 by next week?
Clay Aiken news is slow at the moment, but soon, we will have much to talk about. Let’s get ready to create a positive buzz about Clay and his music. This is something we all can do.
P.S. The study is over 30 pages long so this is only a quick review of the “bottom line” of the study. If you want more information, the study can be found HERE