The Star // Quantifying How Blog Posts Affect Music Sales

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[Via – The Star]
Dismissed by some as irrelevant, music bloggers can have a striking impact on album sales, an expert on technology and the economy has found.

“It’s been suggested that blogs are just noise that really didn’t help you predict” sales, says Professor Vasant Dhar of New York University.

“A moderate amount of blog chatter might not predict anything, but off-the-chart blog chatter – even in some cases when there was no major record label behind a band – had an effect.”

The study, Does Chatter Matter? The Impact of User-Generated Content on Music Sales, done with student Elaine Chang, found that a flurry of “legitimate” blog posts influenced sales threefold.

When blog posts hit 240, sales went up six times on average, regardless of whether an album was released by a major or independent label.

“It is possible for an album to overcome the disadvantage of being released by an independent label,” the study reported. “In fact, albums with such extreme highs in chatter correspond to sales even higher than major label, high-chatter albums.”

Under that 240 benchmark, high blog chatter will translate into more sales, although they’ll still be relatively low if the album is released by an indie label.

“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.”

Indeed, major record labels came knocking after the study was published recently, said Dhar. He said he has no plans now to perform further studies for them.

In an interview Tuesday morning with the Star, Dhar described music blogging as “electronic word-of-mouth” that transcends the old geographical boundaries.

“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.”

Dhar, director of the Center for Digital Economy Research at the Stern School of Business, admitted to a personal preference for the music he grew up with: “classic” Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Who, with a flirtation with reggae in the ’80s, and “several years ago, I really got into The Killers.”

But the study fostered a new respect for rap in him. “I still don’t care for it too much, but I understand it better,” he said, an attitude that goes over well at home, where he has two children, 16 and 20.

The study measured CD sales on over eight weeks and defined major record labels as Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Group and Warner Music Group, which marshal 82 per cent of the music market. Continue Reading

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