LOS ANGELES — The return of Adele and a tribute to Whitney Houston helped drive the Grammy Awards to its second-biggest audience ever, but it will still be a few days before the ultimate winners are revealed. With 40 million viewers tuning into CBS’ performance-heavy broadcast, the Grammys can still have a career-changing effect.
An act can walk away from the Grammys a loser and still come out ahead, at least in terms of popularity. Last year folk-rockers Mumford & Sons went 0-2 in their nominated categories, but had a showcase performance with legend Bob Dylan.
Early indications from online retailers such as Apple’s iTunes store and Amazon.com foretell large Grammy sales bumps for Bruno Mars, the Civil Wars and Bon Iver. Album of the year winner Adele is leading all Internet sales charts, yet that’s no surprise as the British soul star went into the Grammy Awards with 19 straight weeks atop the tally. Rdio, an on-demand digital music streaming service, reported that Adele’s songs saw a 68 percent jump in the hours following her Grammy sweep, while Bon Iver got a 121 percent boost.
More below-the-radar is rootsy duo the Civil Wars. The act had only 60 seconds of air time on the Grammys, but their debut “Barton Hollow” on Monday morning was the No. 5 bestselling album on iTunes and No. 15 on Amazon. Considering both sales charts are heavy on releases from the late Houston, it would appear the Civil Wars are now reaching a larger audience.
“The Grammy Awards show’s broad, mainstream audience is a perfect next step for the Civil Wars’ gradual incline of awareness and appeal,” said manager Nate Yetton in an email. “As an early indicator, the band’s website went from an average of 2,000 to 3,000 hits per day, to over 20,000 hits immediately following their Grammy performance."
“Barton Hollow” was No. 121 on the U.S. pop chart heading into the Grammy telecast. Apple’s iTunes store, which does not release sales data, is the world’s largest retailer, and a top-10 showing could have a massive effect on an artist’s sales. In the weeks leading up to the Grammys, Yetton said “Barton Hollow” fluctuated between No. 40 and No. 60 on iTunes.
For some perspective, last year’s best new artist winner Esperanza Spalding immediately jumped into the top 10 on iTunes after the Grammys. The jazz artist’s “Chamber Music Society” sold 18,000 copies in the week following the Grammys, up from about 3,000 the week prior.
Other albums from Grammy performers in the top 10 on iTunes and Amazon include Mars’ debut “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” and Lady Antebellum’s “Own the Night.” This year’s best new artist winner, Bon Iver, is No. 15 on iTunes. Nielsen SoundScan tracks sales through Sunday evening, meaning the full effect of the Grammys on retail won’t be evident for another week.