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Technology

Death becomes them: Five times an artist's album sales benefited from their unexpected demise

On July 20, Chester Bennington, the 41-year-old lead singer of the group Linkin Park, took his own life. The next day, streaming services experienced a 7,000 percent surge in the group’s music plays, according to Variety.

Given the power of music streaming — which now counts toward RIAA certification and is as nearly as valuable as physical album sales — posthumous listening has financial incentives for the singer, in addition to artistic value. An artist’s sudden death is more than likely to vault them to the top of the charts, even if they’ve been out of the spotlight for years.

When rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry passed away in March at the age of 90, his album sales and streams skyrocketed exponentially — not bad for a singer who hadn’t dropped a new album in nearly four decades.

Mara Schwartz Kuge, founder and president of Superior Music Corp., said these increases are driven by a few different factors.

“A lot of it is curiosity sparked by news coverage of the artist’s death,” she told CNBC. “People who may have had a passing familiarity with the artist might see the headlines and decide to give them another listen.”

Schwartz-Kuge also cited nostalgia — particularly in the case of Linkin Park, which at the height of its popularity had a large following of high school students.

“Those kids are now grown up and may not have listened to Linkin Park in years, but needed to revisit their music and that era when Chester Bennington recently passed,” she said.

Posthumous listening binges also serve the audience’s need for catharsis, and for those who didn’t know the artist personally. It offers the closest thing to a communal mourning experience.

“You can’t go to a celebrity’s funeral, but you can mourn privately by bingeing their music,” Schwartz-Kuge added.

Many artists have also seen their music sales boom after embracing the sweet hereafter. CNBC took a look at a few whose unexpected demise was followed by a surge in sales.

Source: Tech CNBC
Death becomes them: Five times an artist's album sales benefited from their unexpected demise

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