Lady Gaga Debuts New Music Video, “Till It Happens To You;” Early Stats

Lady Gaga’s newest music video (released late last night) may not be an instant pop classic on the level of “Bad Romance,” or “Telephone,” but it grabs your soul and gives a few tugs. Reminiscent of adult contemporary heart-tuggers by the likes of Mary Lambert, Gaga sings, “You don’t know how it feels till it happens to you,” as men and women in a variety of situations are subjected to sexual violence and/or outright raped. The song has also been compared to prior evocative Gaga ballads like “Dope,” “Speechless,” and “Gypsy.”

“Till It Happens to You” was created for the sexual violence documentary, The Hunting Ground, which was released back in January. Lady Gaga has recently been a strong voice against sexual violence, and she has been vocal about her personal experiences.

Numbers

In the description box, it says that a portion of proceeds from sales of the song will be donated to organizations helping survivors of sexual assault. So, lets take a peak at the early numbers and see how the song is likely to do.

Youtube Views

The video was released at approximately 8pm eastern time on 9/17/15. It had registered 680,859 views as of 9/18/15 7:00PM. It has registered 2,516,906 views as of 10:45AM on 9/19/2015.

Some chunk of the views that have already registered (perhaps 400,000) will have occurred in the first hours of the song’s availability on the 17th. As a general rule, I have found the total viewcount  as of noon on the following day to be a good estimate of the official viewcount through the previous day at midnight. Therefore, I estimate that the song has accumulated at least 2.5 million views through the end of its first full day of availability.

We will likely have official numbers for the first full day of availability on Sunday.

Current iTunes Sales

The song is currently at #27 on the iTunes chart, selling 0.2856 times the number of copies as the #1 song, which is currently Justin Bieber’s new single, “What Do You Mean.” Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” is currently selling 0.7495 times the rate of the #1 song, and it has stable week-over-week sales. Calibrating Gaga’s single to Taylor Swift’s, we achieve an estimate of 32,389 copies sold per week at the current rate.

Expected Trajectory

Per Kworb.net, the song rose steadily since its release (in 2.1-2.2 hour increments): 0.1398-0.1469-0.1968-0.2401-0.2726-0.2993-0.3099. Then, it dropped to 0.3068 and then down to .2979. It has remained in the .29s and .28s for the six frames since. However, the #1 song has been declining steadily in sales, so steady relative sales is the equivalent of steadily declining sales.

Another way to look at it is that Gaga’s iTunes chart position has declined from a peak of about #23 to a current position of #27. It was gaining relative to other songs in the first seven increments, declining relative to other songs in the next four increments, neutral for one increment, gaining for two more increments, and then declining again for the last increment.

I’m not going to lie. This is not the sales curve of a pop smash from an established artist. I suspect the song will slowly drop off from its current level.

Early First-Week Sales Estimate?

20,000-25,000 copies in the US.

Total Sales Estimate?

50,000-100,000 copies in the US.

This is all assuming that the song will not be promoted to radio. It would likely have a lukewarm reception at pop, but I could see the song doing well at adult contemporary if Gaga chose to promote it. If the song were promoted to radio and it were to garner some non-negligible airplay, then that would drive sales to continue at (or return to) their current level for a few months instead of a few days. In that case, I would revise my total sales projection up to 200,000-300,000 copies. I suspect, however, that this will never be a radio single.

Watch “Till it Happens to You” here, and share your thoughts about its commercial and emotional potential in the comments below!

Update 9/19/15 – Dropped 0.2570, 0.2247, 0.2184, 0.2184. Estimated US sales at one week of current level: 25,012. New estimate for first week sales: 15,000-20,000.

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pdaines

Peter Daines is a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. His interests include studying foreign languages, watching and predicting events in politics and the music industry, and searching fruitlessly for the meaning of life.

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