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How The Grammys Affected Spotify Listeners

February 10, 2023

Ever wonder how big music awards shows affect Spotify listeners? Well, let's take a fun (totally non-scientific) look at how some artists fared following the most recent GRAMMY Awards.

The 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards took place on Sunday, February 5th. For those somehow unfamiliar with the show, it's the most-watched music awards show in the United States and probably the most recognizable music award globally. (Though worth noting that viewership tanked in 2021 and, despite year-on-year growth, the show is still bringing half the eyeballs it used to even just a few years ago). 

In addition to the actual viewership, the awards also tend to dominate industry chatter and pop culture social media for at least a day or two. All this attention, then, should surely lead to a big boost in Spotify listeners for the winners...right? 

Well, not necessarily. 

How Did Spotify Listeners Change For The Biggest Artists?

Some of the biggest winners of the night were, unsurprisingly, some of the biggest pop stars in the world. Harry Styles took home Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. 

The superstar already has 65.1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, good for 15th overall in the world. And the Monday immediately following the GRAMMY Awards, he saw a slight boost in listenership — he eclipsed 20 million Spotify streams on one single day. But overall his monthly listeners didn't exhibit any atypical trends, at least partially suggesting that any of the 12 million viewers who also had Spotify weren't particularly moved to stream the latest Album of the Year. 

Lizzo fared similarly. The Record of the Year winner for her song "About Damn Time" saw an immediate Monday boost, topping 4 million daily streams for the first time this year, but otherwise saw a "business as usual" trend in her 25.1 million monthly Spotify listeners. Interestingly enough, both Styles and Lizzo have been on a declining trend of "playlist reach," meaning their presence on playlists has declined recently. 

Other notable names who won awards, like Adele, Ozzy Osbourne, and Michael Bublé, saw no almost discernible affect on their Spotify listener performance.

How The GRAMMY Awards Affected Spotify Listeners For Artists With A Smaller Profile

While the major stars of the music world kind of just kept on churning in terms of Spotify listeners, we saw a notable bump in listenership for some of the lesser-known names. At face value, this feels kind of obvious. But it's important to note, especially given how much more streaming revenue matters to these artists. 

The "big surprise" of the night came when Jazz artist Samara Joy won Best New Artist (she also took home the Best Jazz Vocal Album award). Joy saw a major boost, eclipsing 200,000 listeners on the Monday after the awards and raising her total monthly listeners as of publication to around 760,000. In the few days following the spike, the numbers have certainly dropped, but will almost certainly settle much higher than her pre-GRAMMY number. 

The legendary Bonnie Raitt saw her listenership nearly triple the Monday after the GRAMMYs (but has since seen a falling off). At 3.2 million monthly listeners, she'll likely settle somewhere around 150% of her previous numbers. GRAMMY favorite Brandi Carlile also saw a big spike (currently at 3.8 million monthly Spotify listeners) after winning Best Americana Album, Best Rock Performance, and Best Rock Song.

Other artists with smaller profiles, like Wet Leg and Snarky Puppy, also saw notable increases that could logically be attributed to their GRAMMY wins. Wet Leg has maintained most of their boost throughout the week, unlike many other artists. 

The Obvious Takeaway

The obvious takeaway here is that smaller artists benefit a whole lot more from the GRAMMY Awards than pop stars do in today's climate — at least when it comes to raw streaming consumption on one platform. But this, of course, is completely unscientific and only accounts for the music streaming platform that makes these specific numbers public.

Digital sales for artists like Samara Joy and Bonnie Raitt also went through the roof

That said, an artist like Samara Joy is almost certainly now on a different career tier. Not only does the visibility boost lead to more money in her pocket from streaming services (hopefully), but it genuinely opens new performance opportunities. Meanwhile, Beyoncé breaking the record for the most GRAMMY wins of all time probably really doesn't mean anything in terms of her career. It's just another nice entry on the Wikipedia page.

The GRAMMY Awards rely on big names to draw viewership, but may not really mean as much to the careers of those artists as they used to. At least when it comes to whether or not it makes people want to listen to them more. There's a decent chance people have just already made up their minds about Harry Styles and Ozzy Osbourne. 

Context To Keep In Mind

When you compare the platform signal boost of the GRAMMY Awards with other platforms, it's shocking just how much things have changed. Before the prevalence of Spotify, the post-GRAMMY sales bump was a serious deal. Heck, it even helped Bonnie Raitt reach new career heights back in 1990.

Just look at some of these big pre-Spotify sales bumps for Album of the Year winners. The fact we're not seeing those numbers translate to streaming doesn't necessarily mean the sales bump is completely gone. But it does remind us that streaming is all about building sustained growth over time — and the pop culture happens all around us, even when it's not televised.

The road to being nominated for a GRAMMY — much less winning one — is fraught with politics and peril. But the power of social media? Well, that's a lot more universal.

When you think of the effect from viral content compared to something like a globally recognized award show, you really start to see the power of platforms like TikTok. Consider somebody like Stacey Ryan, who catapulted to 7.8 million monthly Spotify listeners over the course of a few months, all thanks to consistent content that goes viral and gets supported by more messaging and content. That's life-changing money.

While "winning a GRAMMY" is a dream plenty of artists still have, it can feel further than ever for a lot of people. And ultimately out of your control. But isn't it nice to know that even in this one metric, somebody shooting videos from their bedroom can have a greater impact on their own career than one of the most notable music brands in the world?

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