Renowned Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco’s latest album, ‘Lasers,’ endured a long, complicated and volatile journey from production to release, but the album has performed well commercially the first few months it has been on the market. ‘Lasers’ has sold more than 400,000 copies since its release in early March despite lukewarm reviews. Since the release of the album, Lupe has been heavily promoting ‘Lasers,’ embarking on a nationwide tour and appearing on shows such as the Colbert Report. The exposure from Lupe’s PR push has resulted in significant impact on real album sales. Lupe’s Impact Value numbers, which measure the rapper’s media exposure across the Internet, correlate very well with real album sales, especially from late April and on.
The blue line measures Lupe’s Fiasco’s weekly Impact Value totals, while the red line tracks the weekly decrease in the album’s sales. Interestingly, the Impact Value trend resembles the percentage trend from late April to early June. Lupe generated a significant Impact Value spike during the week of April 18 – 24. During that same week, the percentage sales decrease for ‘Lasers’ dropped from 20.8 percent to 7.3 percent. The New York Times provided a significant portion of the media exposure for that week as Fiasco performed several shows in the New York area later that weekend. The data suggests that Lupe’s presence in New York helped stabilize album sales for that week.
The pattern continued in May. Lupe’s weekly Impact Value began to trend downward in the weeks after his New York appearance. Sales for ‘Lasers’ dropped 0.2 percent the first week of May, 5.1 percent the second week of May and 10.1 percent in the third week of May. Total Impact Value fell from $471K during the week of May 2 – 8 to $318K in the week of May 16 – 22.
In the last week of May, the Los Angeles Times’ Music blog, ‘Pop and Hiss,’ promoted Lupe’s appearance at the UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival during Memorial Day weekend. The publicity helped ‘Lasers” sales as the weekly percentage sales decrease for the album dropped from 10.1 percent to 8.5 percent during that week. Fiasco’s weekly Impact Value total dropped again the first week of June and corresponded to a rise in the percentage sales decrease for ‘Lasers.’ While correlation does not prove causation, there is a case to be made that changes in media exposure for Lupe are related to the changes in ‘Lasers” album sales.
Should the music executive be excited about this data?
Certainly, he or she should be because the analytics provide some insight into how the actual promotion and publicity for the artist translates into real purchases of the album. And with General Sentiment’s Media Value metrics, the exposure generated by the record company and the artist is very measurable and able to be analyzed effectively. The real value comes when executives are able to measure the relative changes in the artists’ exposure and observe whether or not these changes resulted in any significant real world consequences. They are then able to plan future marketing and promotion campaigns around the consumers’ response.
Lupe Fiasco sold 204,000 copies of ‘Lasers’ during its inaugural week because of the strong fan base already in place after the success of the Chicago rapper’s last two efforts, ‘Food and Liquor’ and ‘The Cool.’ Sales dropped off after the first month as most of Fiasco’s fervent fans had already purchased the album. These days, it is a victory to slow down the week-to-week decrease in sales of an album, building consistent purchases. So, the focus of the promotion machine was to continue to engage the public and add new listeners. In Lupe’s case, his efforts in the major music markets like New York and Los Angeles helped spur more consistent buys of ‘Lasers.’
Lupe’s commercial success has also been driven by strong discussion on Twitter. The graph below shows that, while most of the Internet reacted very negatively to Lupe’s recent comments about Obama, the Twitterverse was much quicker to support him.