“Perfect Illusion” Scores #1 Spin-Growth on US Radio Saturday

After reports surfaced earlier today supposedly confirming that Lady Gaga had been selected to perform at the Super Bowl next year turned out to be false, Little Monsters could use a little bit of good news.

ITunes sales f0r “Perfect Illusion” appeared to have largely stabilized while it was at #4 last weekend, but after about 1 week in the top ten, the song started dropping more quickly again. It currently sits at a dismal #51. This is a bad sign. Silver lining? Sia’s “The Greatest,” which for various reasons is clearly going to end up as another major hit and was only released a few days before “Perfect Illusion,” has shown a very similar dropoff curve, which indicates possible conformity with an unknown non-fatal structural trend.

However, the real good news comes from the radio numbers. Today marks the first day in which we can look at real week-over-week radio growth figures after the first day’s promotional airplay has dropped off the running tally. The trick is to watch growth figures stabilize into a predictable and consistent growth curve from which we can predict a song’s eventual peak.

The worst-case scenario would be essentially what happened to Britney Spears’  single “Make Me…” During its first week of release, it received excellent promotional first-day airplay and consistent and substantial radio airplay thereafter. But radio airplay at the end of the week was pretty much the same as at the beginning of the week, and after the promotional airplay dropped off, and the growth figures started to have a base level of airplay for comparison (the airplay total for the same day of the prior tracking week), it became clear that Britney’s single was barely growing in radio airplay at all. It never settled into a strong rate of radio airplay growth. It largely stagnated, and now, a month later, is well into a consistent decline curve.

The best case scenario is rapid day-over-day growth during the first week of release that lends itself to a still-impressive growth curve after the bump.

During the first week of airplay, I was concerned because “Perfect Illusion” did not appear to be exhibiting a clear pattern of day-over-day growth. At least, however, it did not appear to be losing ground.

So what are the numbers?

1.6M growth on overall US radio audience impressions (7th best). #73 (+8). +539 spins (1st best).

1.1M growth on US Pop radio audience impressions (6th best). #23 (+2). +299 spins (2nd best).

0.5M growth on US Adult Pop radio audience impressions (2nd best). #23 by spins (+0). +157 spins (1st best).

“Perfect Illusion” Update

“Perfect Illusion” was the 8th most-heard song overall on all of US radio during its first day of release, with 17 million Kworb-standard impressions. Radio impressions for subsequent days have been around 3.2M.

Primarily on the strength of first-day promotional airplay, “Perfect Illusion” debuted on the Pop Songs (Top 40) and HAC (Adult Pop Songs) weekly radio airplay charts for the tracking week ending Saturday, September 10th at #s 31 and 32 respectively.

NOTE: Sales and streaming are tracked on a Thursday – Thursday basis, and the two days of radio airplay were not alone enough to spark a debut on the Hot 100 for the tracking week that Billboard just reported on yesterday. This means that the initial promotional radio airplay spike will not count towards Gaga’s Hot 100 debut ranking. 

“Perfect Illusion” currently ranks at #4 on iTunes, and its sales decline appears to have slowed if not completely stabilized. Kworb.net currently estimates 95,000 first-week sales. Although not close to record-shattering, this is a robust figure that is consistent with the recent debuts of other big hits by major artists. It is comparable, for example, to the debut of Sia’s “The Greatest,” which is already clearly another huge hit. Of course, it is also comparable to the debut sales of Britney Spears’ “Make Me Ooh,” which subsequently stalled at radio.

“Perfect Illusion” currently ranks at #68 on the running weekly radio airplay chart. Given current trends, it should peak just inside the top 50 before its first-day promotional airplay drops off of the running tally.

On Spotify, “Perfect Illusion” was streamed 465,095 times in the United States on Monday, down from a peak of 594,798 on Friday, but up from a low of 422,776 on Sunday. It received 500,663 streams on Saturday. It is currently ranked at its low point of #30 on US Spotify. It debuted and peaked at #21. “Perfect Illusion” is currently at #32 on the Global Spotify chart with 1,432,210 streams on Monday.

By comparison, Sia’s “The Greatest” ranks at #11 on Global Spotify with 2,420,304 streams, and #15 on US Spotify with 613,759 streams. The #1 song on US and Global Spotify received 2,216,474 streams and 6,337,912 streams, respectively.

Gaga seems to have the strongest performance in Latin America and Mainland Europe. Here are the iTunes and Spotify positions for “Perfect Illusion” in every country in the world right now:

Perfect Illusion

 

“Perfect Illusion” scores solid 17 million first-day radio impressions

As expected, Lady Gaga’s new single has had a warm reception at pop and adult pop (HAC) radio during its first day of release, opening at #s 33 and 38, respectively, on the formats’ running weekly rankings.

Overall, Gaga’s new song was the #8 most-played song on US radio on Friday, largely based on the strength of promotional hourly airplay from iHeartRadio stations.

On iTunes, “Perfect Illusion” dropped to #2 on Saturday morning, in the face of continued strong sales for The Chainsmokers’ “Closer.” Both songs, however, maintain 2-1 sales leads over the #3 song, Twenty One Pilots’ “Heathens.” As previously reported, Gaga’s new single is expected to debut at #2 on digital songs after its first full week of sales, with 100,000 to 150,000 copies sold.

On the Billboard Hot 100, “Perfect Illusion” seems likely to debut in the top ten. It may crack the top 5, but is unlikely to contend for the #1 slot in the absence of intervention (i.e. music video drop, new scandal, television appearances, etc.).

Reviews of “Perfect Illusion” have been all over the board, with many commenters praising the song as one of Gaga’s best, but some were “unimpressed.” This review sums up the nuances of the contradictory positions particularly well.

One of the most-liked comments on “Perfect Illusion”‘s official audio on YouYube reads:

Perfect Illusion:
1st listen: What just happened…
2nd: I’ll give it a few more chances
10th: IT WASN’T LOOOVE
30th: Bitch take the grammy

This Week RECAP: END OF TAYLOR SWIFT, Saara, Grammy Bumps: Weeknd, Adele, Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, Zayn, & Haley Reinhart

In this issue of This Week RECAP, we will say goodbye to Taylor Swift for a few years. Then, we will look at a stunning new Justin Bieber cover song from Finnish Youtube sensation, Saara, before recapping Grammy bumps and the battle between new singles by Rihanna and ex-One Directioner Zayn Malik. We’ll close by congratulating Haley Reinhart on her latest accomplishment. 

THE END OF TAYLOR SWIFT – Don’t expect any new music from Taylor Swift for a while. It appears that “Out of the Woods” is the last single she will be promoting off of 1989, and for the first time in a decade, Taylor will not be releasing an album in the fall of an even year.

We know that she is planning on taking a break after the 1989 Tour because she said so. But it would be perfectly reasonable for you to wonder why I think “Out of the Woods” is the last single she will be promoting. The answer: I have been looking at radio trends and concluded that Taylor’s label has stopped PROMOTING “Out of the Woods.” Now why would they do that?

Radio Trends – First let’s take a peak at the performance of Taylor’s prior singles.

Shake It Off” stayed in the Top 2 of the Hot 100 for twelve weeks, including 4 weeks (at the edges) at #1. Radio peak: #1 (195.5m/week). Current radio performance: #104 (18.021m/week).

Blank Space” dethroned “Shake it Off” and maintained the pole position for 6 consecutive weeks. Radio peak: #1 (198.131m/week). Current radio performance: #101 (19.830m/week).

Style” peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 on relatively weak Youtube streams and weak sales (after everyone and their dog already owned 1989). But on radio songs, it still climbed to a #3 peak (178.862m/week). And, it is currently outperforming the two earlier singles and later single “Bad Blood” on radio at #85 (23.825m/week).

Bad Blood” spent a single debut frame at #1 on the hot 100 on the strength of strong sales and streams (from a high-budget music video and a remixed version of the single featuring Kendrick Lamar). Then, it spent an additional 5 weeks at #2, stuck behind Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again.” Radio peak: #1 (195.179m/week). Current radio performance: #128 (14.696m/week).

Wildest Dreams” peaked at #5 on the Hot 100. Radio peak: #1 (180.290m/week). Current radio performance: #13 (76.006m/week).

Out of the Woods” peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 on the strength of strong sales when it was released as a promotional single for 1989. During its current radio run as an actual single, it has peaked at #44. Radio peak: #18 (68.848m/week). Current radio performance: #25 (62.822m/week).

You KNOW there is something off about this pattern.

When it was first released as a single, “Out of the Woods” looked much like any of Taylor’s prior singles, numerically, albeit a bit weaker. It started with 5 million first-day Youtube views. It was consistently one of the greatest gainers at radio. Sales were weak, because everyone already owned 1989. But I was expecting the single to still rise up to at least 150 million radio audience impressions/week, just as all of the prior singles had, and to thereby peak at or near the top of the radio chart.

Everything looked swell until “Out of the Woods” suddenly stopped growing at radio, only halfway up the chart. In fact, never reached HALF of the radio airplay of Taylor’s next weakest 1989 song to date, and this after every other single had consistently reached a narrow band of 178m-198m audience impressions/week. There is nothing wrong with “Out of the Woods.” It sounds quite a bit like “Style” and “Wildest Dreams,” with no substantial or obvious differences in quality or hit potential. So, why on Earth would a song by one of the biggest pop stars on the planet right now so suddenly turn around on radio?

Last week, I wondered if Taylor Swift had any real impetus to continue releasing singles off of 1989, if they would be medium-large radio/streaming hits with weak sales. Who bears the costs of promoting a single to radio? The record label. How much does it cost to promote a song all the way to the top? I think Taylor’s label noticed that she has (they have) nothing to gain at this point from a hit single aside from the accompanying sales. If the sales alone aren’t enough to justify the promotion, then maybe the label simply cut the cord and stopped bothering with it?

Now, assuming that the label is no longer promoting her song to radio, what does that say about the prospects of a seventh high quality music video, and accompanying promotion of another single to radio? The chances are slim.

Conclusion – Don’t expect another single from 1989, and don’t expect another album any time soon. This is the end of one of the biggest runs that the music industry has ever seen. What will become of Taylor? Will she come back and release more music in a few years? Will her fans still be waiting? Will the country still be interested in her work the way it is now? Or is this the end of the saga of Taylor Swift as superstar? Is everything downhill for her from hear on out?

Saara – Saara is a Finnish girl who became youtube-famous for speaking perfect gibberish in essentially all the languages on Earth. Anyways, she is trying to break into the music industry. She has serious chops, but her videos have frequently been extremely… youtube. Anyways, she finally got her act together and released a legitimate, serious cover version of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” and it’s actually REALLY good, ESPECIALLY at the parts where it is most important.

Expected Grammy Bumps — or Rather, the LACK thereof! 

The Weeknd & Adele – Oh, where to begin. After an underwhelming performance, The Weeknd’s current single, “In the Night,” is apparently only looking at a 45% sales bump (21K – 31K), barely enough to cover radio airplay that is dropping like a rock (#5; 120m/week, -1.294m today; down from a peak of over 135m/week). Maybe that will be enough to pull it into the top 10 from its current #14 perch, but it’s a bit more uncertain now.

As for Adele, she didn’t even BOTHER to perform “When We Were Young” (which is sitting at #20 on the Hot 100 and #10 on radio with 95.679m/week, +0.395m today). Instead, she used the platform to promote presumed next single “All I Ask,” which, by the way, didn’t reach #1 on iTunes. After an underwhelming performance plagued by technical problems, the song missed the iTunes top 5, and will be debuting on the Hot 100 with fewer sales than “Hello” is still getting, months after its peak.

Hello,” meanwhile, is still in the iTunes top 10 more than 4 months after its record-smashing release last year. The success of “Hello,” which already has 1.18 BILLION views on Youtube just goes to show what Adele can accomplish when she puts in effort, releases a legitimate music video, and promotes her work. The mediocre performance of “When We Were Young” and “All I Ask” is the result of Adele NOT releasing a music video or promoting her work effectively.

The Most-Facebooked Event of the Night? Lady Gaga’s superfan tribute to David Bowie.

Rihanna – Riri did NOT show up for her Grammy performance due to health issues! That means she gets no Grammy boost! Luckily, releasing her song for streaming pushed her up into the top 5 anyways. Also “Work” is still rocketing up radio with 2m+ additional weekly audience impressions/day, and is now up to 84.315m/week. However, it is only appearing on three formats: Pop, Rhythmic, and Urban. Why isn’t it charting on Adult Pop, Adult Contemporary, Latin Urban, or Spanish yet? None of the top six radio songs overall are charting on fewer than 5 formats, so if Rihanna is going to make it to the top, she will eventually have to cross over to a few more formats.

Beyonce – speaking of crossing over, Beyonce’s new song, “Formation,” has been rocketing up Rhythmic, Urban, and Urban AC, but it has yet to appear on EITHER Pop OR Adult Pop after more than 1 week of release. It is obviously not going to appear on country radio, so its ascent is clearly handicapped by Pop’s boycott. Even if it were to reach #1 on all three of its current formats simultaneously, it would still only have about 70 million audience impressions/week and be ranked at around #19 overall on radio songs.

“Formation” is currently at #74 overall on radio (+3; 29.264m/week, +0.986m today). It is also #25 on Rhythmic (+0; 9.959m/week, -0.047m today; 1182 spins/week, +71 today); #15 on Urban (+3; 17.991m/week, +0.969m today (greatest gainer); 1902 spins/week, +147 today (greatest spincrease)); and #44 on Urban AC (-1; 0.662m/week, +0.018m today; 69 spins/week, +4 today).

Zayn – Zayn (formerly of One Direction)’s “Pillowtalk” (#19 on Pop, +2; 34.982m/week, +1.879m today; 5956 spins/week, +275), which was released within about 24 hours of Rihanna’s “Work” (#20 on Pop, -1; 33.423m/week, +0.944m today; 5908 spins/week, +150 today), just passed it on pop radio, even as “Work” (#12 overall, +0 today; 84.315m/week, +2.119m today) retains a massive lead on overall radio over “Pillowtalk” (#54 overall, +7 today; 39.088m/week, +2.235m today). The difference? Rihanna pulls in 23 million audience impressions per week from her #6 position on Rhythmic (Zayn is at #34 on that chart with 2.5m/week) and another 23 million weekly audience impressions from her #8 post on Urban. Zayn’s song appears on the charts of no other formats. On streaming and sales, the two songs are pretty evenly matched, with the edge to Rihanna on both.

But, note that Zayn’s song has accelerated, and it is now growing at a slightly faster clip than Rihanna’s “Work.” Will “Work” stay two steps ahead of “Pillowtalk” throughout their chart lives, or does “Pillowtalk” have a chance to eventually catch up?

Haley Reinhart – “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is still growing on Adult Pop, and it reaches a new milestone on overall radio songs, as it is set to pass a running tally of 5 million audience impressions/week by tomorrow. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is currently charting at #33 on Adult Pop and #23 on Adult Contemporary, after it featured as the centerpiece for a viral ad campaign for Extra Gum, which now has over 18 million views on Youtube. It is expected to be featured on Haley’s upcoming second solo studio album.

TRIVIA QUESTION 

Answer to last week’s question: What artist has had the largest CONSECUTIVE run at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 over the past two years (including on different songs)? Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” ruled the Hot 100 for 14 weeks in early 2015. Honorable mention to Taylor Swift (“Blank Space” & “Shake it Off” — 9 weeks consecutive, 11 weeks total, but “Shake it Off” spent an additional 8 weeks in a virtual tie with “All About that Base,” thereby coming oh so close to having 19 consecutive weeks at #1, or almost 5 months), Adele (“Hello” — 10 weeks), Pharrell  Williams (“Happy” — 10 weeks), The Weeknd (“Can’t Feel My Face” & “The Hills” — 7 weeks, but “Can’t Feel My Face” had previously spent 2 of the previous 5 weeks at #1 — The Weeknd also managed to spend 45 straight weeks in the top ten, 4th best all-time), Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth (“See You Again” — 12 weeks @ #1 but non-consecutive; interrupted by Taylor Swift’s record-breaking “Bad Blood” debut), Iggy Azalea (“Fancy” — 7 weeks), Magic! (“Rude” — 6 weeks), Meghan Trainor (“All About that Base” — 8 weeks), and Justin Bieber (“What do You Mean,” “Sorry,” & “Love Yourself” — 6 non-consecutive weeks, but spread among 3 straight #1 singles, with 24 straight weeks of having a top 10 single).

This week’s question: Last summer, Taylor Swift and her team executed a carefully calibrated multi-prong strategy to get “Bad Blood” to become an instant #1 single, despite being released in the middle (peak) of “See You Again”‘s massive 12-week reign. Name one prong of that strategy.

 

 

 

Weekly Recap: The Weeknd, Twenty One Pilots, Hot 100 #1 Battle, Justin Bieber, Haley Reinhart, Adam Lambert, Adele, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Rihanna

As Rebecca Black once “sang,” to all of our entertainment, IT’S FRIDAY. Because, I mean, yesterday I think it WAS Thursday. And tomorrow is Saturday. And Sunday comes… afterward… If I can keep my days straight, I believe that Monday is the next one, right? Or was it Tuesday? Oh the travails of very-early-onset Alzheimers.

Obviously, it’s time for a weekly recap of what to watch in the music industry.

10) The Weeknd

In the Night” appears to have peaked at #5 on radio songs, as it is now clearly shedding airplay. After taking home a 4th place trophy for pulling off 45 consecutive weeks of having a single in the top 10 of the Hot 100, the question was whether The Weeknd‘s “In the Night” could continue the trend with the buzz of its music video release. It missed the top 10, peaking at #12 (Youtube streams were pretty wimpy… relatively, of course), and the question became whether it could reach the top ten at all on the strength of gradually building airplay. Now that its airplay has peaked, that finally appears impossible.

Except… he has been nominated for six Grammys this year (including Record and Album of the year) and he is slated to perform. We should probably expect a pretty big Grammy bump, at least in terms of sales. Will it be enough to vault The Weeknd back into the top 10? Maybe… Probably. We’ll just have to wait and see.

9) Twenty One Pilots

“Stressed Out” is actually not that far behind Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” in terms of radio airplay, and it is now growing at a substantially faster pace. “Stressed Out” could reach #1 on the Hot 100.

What am I watching? Global Youtube streams for “Stressed Out” are only at 1 million/day. Compare that to “Love Yourself”‘s 4 million/day. In terms of actual US streams and from all services, “Love Yourself” has more like a 40% lead on “Stressed Out” (still seriously problematic, since streaming is the most heavily-weighted component of Billboard’s charts).

8) Drake v. Zayn Malik v. Rihanna v. Justin Bieber

There is literally a four-way battle brewing for the top of the next Hot 100. Drake, Zayn Malik, and Rihanna all released massive new singles; meanwhile, Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” maintains massive streaming, and decent streaming as it nears the top slot on Radio Songs.

Estimated figures:

Drake – “Summer Sixteen” – 215K sales, 9.5m radio, 2m (?) (Drake’s song is only available for streaming via Apple, and it is not yet charting on any radio airplay charts; however, Billboard reported 3.4 million radio audience impressions in the first three days of the tracking week.)

Rihanna (feat. Drake) – “Work” – 163K sales, 48m radio, 10m streams (?) (Rihanna’s single is not available on YouTube or Spotify, and Tidal has not released streaming figures. However, Billboard reported 2.2 million first-day streams.).

Zayn – “Pillowtalk” – 250K sales, 14m radio, 17m streams

Bieber – “Love Yourself” – 105K sales, 140m radio, 15.8m streams

My bet? Zayn appears to have the edge with “Pillowtalk.” This guess is partly because the chart-formula was just rebalanced to give more weight towards sales, but leaving streaming as the biggest component.

7) Justin Bieber

Replaced himself atop the Hot 100. 5th week atop Artist 100.

 

6) Haley Reinhart

She’s reversing course on AC and finally starting to fall off with “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Slow growth on HAC, where she has now reached #34.

5) Adam Lambert

Adam finally dropped off of Pop songs altogether, and he has seemingly reversed course on HAC after peaking at #23. He is currently at #24 on the chart, with no daily spin gain or loss. Essentially, Adam’s single is done with its regular chart run. It is time to either A) pull a fabulous stunt and turn “Another Lonely Night” into the new official ballad of SINGLES AWARENESS DAY 2016; or B) start promoting “The Original High” so that it can have a legit chance to conquer the summer!

NOTE: Several years after Adam rooted for Haley on her season of American Idol, their paths are about to cross in terms of radio airplay. Adam is stalled/dropping from just over 4 million weekly audience impressions, while Haley’s song is just approaching the 4 million mark. Both artists are producing great music and proving that they will have staying power in the music industry (Adam was recently named the top-earning American Idol alum of 2015 with an estimated $10m income from various projects; Haley has now been the subject of multiple viral Youtube sensations over the course of 2015 and just made her TV debut as the voiceover of an animated young boy on the Netflix original, “F is For Family.”

4) Adele

“When We Were Young” is reversing track on radio airplay. It has basically stalled at #11. It needs a music video or Grammy performance with a little bit of Adele sparkle dust to give it a stimulus, or Adele needs to release a new single. Why? 25 sales are lagging behind projections. Basically, 25 is falling into Taylor Swift’s 1989 pattern, after spending its first five weeks steadily 3X 1989. I think we would all like to see Adele keep selling massive numbers of records and keep breaking records. So, WAKE UP, Adele. Snap your fingers and make the magic happen! ;P

3) Selena Gomez

VAULTS into Top 10 with new single “Hands to Myself” (with both the biggest gains in streams and digital sales for the week). “Hands to Myself” is the third single off of Revival, but Selena doesn’t seem to be slowing down. She previously reached #6 with two prior singles: “Come & Get It” and “The Heart Wants What it Wants” (and, including her work as Selena Gomez & the Scene, the Top 40 (none higher than #20) with 6 singles). With Revival, Selena has reached the ranks of #5-#7 with all three singles to-date, basically making her prior albums look amateurish. BTW, I’m digging the new music.

What am I watching? Will “Hands to Myself” hit the same radio peak as prior singles, or is it just popping into the top ten for a superficial visit? I’ve also noticed that “Hands to Myself” has a remarkable initial Youtube bump (topping 4 million/day for a few days), but that it has since fallen to (what appears to be a sustainable) 1m/day. It will be interesting to see whether it keeps deflating, and it will be interesting to see if the strong views are an indication of relative strength, or whether they are simply due to the steamy content.

2) Lady Gaga 

Gaga is about to set a new record: She will be the first person EVER, within a single calendar year, to sing at: 1) the Super Bowl; 2) the Grammys; and 3) the Oscars. Meanwhile, she just WON a Golden Globe for her performance as the star of American Horror Story: Hotel (to which she is presumably returning for another season), and she is NOMINATED for BOTH a Grammy AND an Oscar. To top it off, her passion project, “Til It Happens to You” (which is responsible for her Oscar and Grammy nominations) is legitimately scaling an airplay chart, as she rises 26-23 today on Adult Contemporary (the third-greatest gainer by spins).

What am I watching for? LG5. Gaga is reportedly planning on dropping an album this year. Gaga’s last (pop) album, 2013’s Artpop, was lampooned as a flop (relative to her prior albums), but it was still the 9th best-selling album of 2013, and its debut sales week (258,000) was comparable to those of contemporaneous albums by Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Plus, Lady Gaga is hot right now. She feels confident. And, quite honestly, Lady Gaga can really throw a punch in the music industry when she is feeling it. I can feel a storm brewing, and I will be fascinated to see what Lady Gaga drops next.

1) Rihanna

One of the biggest stories on the internet right now is how Rihanna’s new album was just certified platinum (representing 1 million sales) after about 14 HOURS of sales (Tidal claims to have moved over 1.4 million units, with 484,833 of them actual sales); and yet Neilson Soundscan officially reported first-week sales of only 460 copies. It’s not ACTUALLY a mystery: 1) Samsung bought and gave away 1 million copies for free, which Billboard and Neilson didn’t count but RIAA did. 2) Tidal was apparently reporting worldwide sales. And, 3) the sales started on the last day of the tracking week.

But, then, the question is whether Rihanna’s album is a “success.” I can report unequivocally that this is probably Rihanna’s single MOST successful album (as ALBUM, not necessarily as compilation of singles) to date. 1) Despite an insane number of massive singles (she already has the same number of #1 hits as Michael Jackson) Rihanna has only moved more than 2 million units (in the USA) of ONE of her seven prior albums, and neither of her two most recent releases has sold more than about 1.2 million copies TOTAL (in the USA). Free giveaway or not, Rihanna basically just brought her album to a par level of distribution in 14 hours–that’s impressive. Tack on the fact that it is still actually going through a legitimate sales run (it is slated to easily top the Billboard 200 in its second week [first full week] with about 125,000 incontrovertible pure album sales, plus massive streams and sales of lead single, “Work”), and the massive success of lead single, “Work” (which already debuted at #9 on the Hot 100 after a fraction of a week, and should challenge for a spot at or near the top of the chart after its first full week of sales, airplay, and streaming are factored in).

What am I watching for? How many albums will Anti sell? How will sales hold up over time? Will Rihanna find success with other singles on the album, or will it go the way of Beyonce (pitiful singles sales after everyone already bought the album)? It has become clear that “Work” will be a legitimate Top 5 hit for Rihanna, but can it make it to #1, either now or later? It is radio’s greatest gainer today, so it might reach number one after a few weeks of strong radio growth, even if it doesn’t make it based on initial sales.

Trivia Question

Every week, the first reader to post a correct answer in the comments section will get a point. I will keep a running scoreboard and post the answers with the next week’s trivia question.

  1. Adele’s “Hello” recently set a record for being the only song to ever sell more then 1,000,000 DOWNLOADS in a single week. What song holds the record for the largest weekly singles tally OVERALL, including both digital AND physical single sales?

 

Lady Gaga stuns in simple, elegant black dress at Emmys

lady gaga emmys

The positive media coverage comes on the wake of her new music video for “Til It Happens to You.” Read about the song and early sales predictions here.

Watch her present an award at the Emmy’s below:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6700720/glamorous-lady-gaga-presents-at-emmys

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.