The Impact of the Grammys on Artist Popularity

February 09, 2016



Highlights:


  • Grammy nominations tend to have a greater impact on artists who have yet to gain mainstream prominence; winners may see a spike in popularity, but the effect of reaching a newfound national audience is mitigated by prior exposure.
  • In 2015, Brandy Clark was relatively unknown among other Best New Artist nominees (i.e., Iggy Azalea, Bastille, HAIM, and Sam Smith). She had the largest percent increase in popularity on YouTube, following the show.
  • Over the past four years, no artist has benefited more from Grammy exposure than Bon Iver. In 2012, they were famously nominated for Best New Artist, Best Alternative Music Album, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. Following the show, their popularity doubled on YouTube and “Holocene” plays increased 150 percent.
  • The 2016 awards are most likely to noticeably boost the popularity of Best New Artist nominee Courtney Barnett, whose views increased twofold after the announcement and who remains less known within the U.S. than the other nominees.
  • 2016 Record of the Year-nominated “Really Love” by D’Angelo also stands to benefit. Plays for the track tripled in the week following the announcement.



Anecdotally, the Grammys provide a huge spotlight for both winners and nominees, especially for smaller, independent artists (e.g., Bon Iver, or colloquially, “Bonnie Bear,” after the 2012 Grammys).

But how does that exposure translate to YouTube? To determine the Grammys’ effect on artist popularity, we examined the nominees for Best New Artist and Song/Record of the Year over the past five years on YouTube.

First, let’s look at last year’s Best New Artist category, which highlights emerging musicians — artists who stand to benefit the most from Grammy exposure.


Daily Views for 2015 Grammy Nominees for Best New Artist
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID


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When we take the popularity of all artists together, it’s clear that last year’s winner, Sam Smith, received a noticeable bump in views on YouTube as a result of his Grammy win (~26 percent views/day increase from week before the awards vs. week after). Trends for Iggy Azalea and Bastille, whose music had already permeated through culture over the course of the past several months, were more modest. Brandy Clark, the least well-known musician of the group, seems to have received little benefit, but the change in her views is masked by the sheer magnitude of the viewership of Iggy Azalea and Sam Smith.

When examined individually, Brandy Clark’s music received the largest boost on YouTube following the Grammys. Even though she didn’t win, the week following the ceremony saw her views spike by 327 percent, receiving a much greater relative gain in popularity than artists who had already been exposed to the public. This increase slowly tapered off until late May, but never returned to baseline, with Clark consistently receiving 25+ percent more views than she did prior to the Grammy ceremony.


Daily Views for Best New Artist 2015 Nominee Brandy Clark
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID


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In fact, Grammy nominations tend to have the greatest impact on musicians who have yet to be discovered by a mainstream audience; winners may see a spike in popularity, but are often already fairly prominent, as Sam Smith was, thus having fewer people that have yet to hear their music.

While Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won in 2014, their views/day had only grown by 18 percent in the week following the Grammys compared to the week prior. The largest benefit that year went to Kacey Musgraves, who remained below the radar of the wider public until the Grammy evening, and whose average views grew by 125 percent in the following week. Bon Iver, whose pared down take on folk music sealed their win in 2012, were able to benefit from both their relatively low exposure prior to the award, as well as the boost that a Grammy win provides: after taking home the Grammy for Best New Artist (as well as for Best Alternative Music Album), their views in the subsequent week increased by an impressive 95 percent.


Best New Artist: Percent Increase in Total Views One Week Before vs. After the Grammys
Note: views are approximated using all videos associated with artist
*denotes winning artist


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For Song of the Year and Record of the Year, the results are similar.

Note: Song of the Year and Record of the Year are both awarded to a single track, but for different reasons. Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters, the people who wrote the lyrics and melody. Record of the Year is awarded to the performer, producer, recording engineer, and mixing.


Song/Record of the Year: Percent Increase in Total Views One Week Before vs. After the Grammys
*views are approximated using all videos associated with track


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Over the past four years, no artist has benefited more from Grammy exposure than Bon Iver. In 2012, they were famously nominated for Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. Following the show, their popularity doubled on YouTube and “Holocene” plays increased 150 percent. Other indie hits, such as “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys and “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons, were also significantly affected.

Song/Record of the Year in 2015 was an anomaly – every track nominated was a huge hit with millions of views on YouTube. The Grammys didn’t provide significant additional exposure relative to previous years.


Daily Views for 2015 Grammy Nominees for Song and Record of the Year
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID


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Three of the six tracks nominated for Song or Record of the Year showed a noticeable increase in popularity. Sam Smith’sStay With Me” won both award categories and subsequently increased from roughly 1.3 million views/day the week before the Grammys to 2 million views/day the week after, a 53 percent change. Hozier’sTake Me To Church” saw a similar increase of about 37 percent over the same period, while Meghan Trainor’sAll About That Bass” grew in views by 22 percent. But the Grammys seem to have had no effect on the popularity of “Chandelier,” “Shake it Off,” and “Fancy.”

Who stands to benefit this year?

The 2016 Best New Artist nominees are an unusual field, including Meghan Trainor — whose “All About That Bass” proved to be unusually catchy and launched the singer to international prominence — and a number of lesser known artists, like James Bay, Sam Hunt, and Tori Kelly, who have received notable acclaim on a lesser scale.


Daily Views for 2016 Grammy Nominees for Best New Artist
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.57.27 AM.png

Among this second group counts Courtney Barnett, the final nominee, who has been growing in popularity both in her homeland of Australia and within the indie rock community in the U.S. Despite having been included on several “Best of 2015” lists by music critics, her stature remains relatively obscure when compared to the other artists in this category; being nominated led Barnett’s view popularity to nearly double in the week after the announcement (compared to the week before), and — whether she wins or not — previous years would suggest that she’s likely to benefit the most from the evening’s exposure.


Daily Views for Best New Artist 2016 Nominee Courtney Barnett
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID


Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.23.19 PM.png

When it comes to Record of the Year, we also expect attention will be drawn to one track: “Really Love” by D’Angelo. Relative to its fellow nominees, it has the biggest opportunity for Grammys exposure.


Daily Views for 2016 Grammy Nominees for Record of the Year
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 10.35.06 AM.png

Compared to huge hits such as Bruno Mars’Uptown Funk” and Taylor Swift’sBlank Space,” D’Angelo’sReally Love” is relatively unknown. When it was announced as a nominee, it tripled in popularity, averaging 12,087 daily plays (one week after the announcement) from 3,809 daily plays (one week prior to the announcement). Expect an even larger change for “Really Love” after the awards show.


Daily Views for 2016 Grammy Nominees for Song of the Year
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID


Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 5.27.34 PM.png

Of all the tracks nominated for Song of the Year, the largest post-Grammy increase in views is likely to go to Little Big Town’sGirl Crush” and Kendrick Lamar’sAlright.” In the past nine months, “Girl Crush” has garnered nearly 41 million views; “Alright,” over the course of the past half year, has received 40.5 million. Although these numbers seem remarkably high, it’s important to note that over the past nine months Wiz Khalifa’sSee You Again,” the most-viewed nominee, has amassed an astronomical 1.4 billion views.

-- Posted by the YouTube Culture & Trends Team
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