Blog chatter can triple music sales

Do bloggers matter? Yes, a new study suggests bloggers really can be influential regarding buying decisions and reputation (which explains why PR professionals have started targeting bloggers with their pitches).

It turns out that the volume of blog posts before a music album's release can significantly affect future album sales, according to a research paper entitled, "Does Chatter Matter," co-authored by NYU Stern Professor Vasant Dhar and former student Elaine Chang. (Dhar is said to be "an expert in the strategic implications of information technology.")

The study's sample looks small to me. But here are the details. Based on a sample of 108 albums released during the first two months of 2007, Dhar found:

  • When legitimate blog posts exceeded a threshold of 40 before an album's release, sales were three times the average.
  • If the albums blogged about were associated with a major record label, sales increased five-fold.
  • When blog activity reached more than 250 posts, sales were six times the average regardless of an association with a major or independent label.
  • The number of an artist's MySpace friends also contributed to higher future sales, but had a weaker correlation than did blog chatter.
  • Dhar says this is the first study to quantify the economic impact of user-generated content for the music industry. The full working paper is available at: NYU Archive.

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