Bowie and Prince Prove Death Is Still The Best Marketing Tool -
Prince Purple Rain

Bowie and Prince Prove Death Is Still The Best Marketing Tool

by Paul Cashmere on May 1, 2016

in New Music,News,Noise Pro

Death is undeniably the greatest promotional tool of the music industry as sales of Prince and Bowie attest.

Both David Bowie and Prince sold 10s of 1000s of albums and single song downloads in the week following their passing’s. However, they sold at very different levels. Bowie sold 43418 albums while Prince sold 34641 albums. Prince, on the other hand, sold a lot more singles.

The news of the death of Prince broke in the early hours of Friday morning on April 22, 2016, at the very start of a new sales week. His 34,640 sales are for the entire sales week. Bowie’s death broke around 5:30pm on a Monday (Australian time). His 43,418 sales therefore represent just three and a bit days.

It is also noted that Bowie did have a more relevant new album in ‘Blackstar’ just released days before his death which also turned out to be about his death leading fans in a search for answers through its lyrics. Bowie also had more iconic albums over a longer period of time in his catalogue than Prince. His albums were mostly complete pieces. Prince was more about hit songs making it more convenient for fans to cherry-pick his work.

Discounting Prince’s compilation albums at no’s 2, 4, 6 and 40 it is interesting to note that after the obvious signature album ‘Purple Rain’, the next biggest album was ‘Sign O The Times’ ahead of the originally higher charting ‘Diamonds and Pearls’.

Good sales numbers also registered for the more recent ‘HITNRUN Phase One and ‘Art Official Age’ sold ahead of the more popular ‘Around The World In A Day’, ‘Love Symbol’, ‘Parade’ and ‘Controversy’. That was because next to no Prince stock was in stores except for those recent albums and fans bought whatever was on the shelf.

Most Prince sales were digital. For many it was the only way to purchase the music fast. Bowie, on the other hand, had a lot more stock in the market place with the higher profile the recent Bowie ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition created.

Prince had toured Australia just months before his death but because of the short-lead time before the shows there was not enough set-up time to produce more stock and capitalise on the tour with physical product.

This is how Prince sales compared to David Bowie sales

Prince album sales

2 The Very Best of Prince 18430
4 The Hits / The B Sides 4382
5 Purple Rain 4130
6 Ultimate 3688
20 Sign O The Times 786
22 Diamonds and Pearls 768
25 HITNRUN Phase One 729
40 The Hits 1 499
55 Art Official Age 436
82 Around The World In A Day 282
90 Love Symbol 259
98 Parade 251
107 Controversy 236
117 HITNRUN Phase Two 215
125 Lovesexy 204
133 Dirty Mind 193
142 Prince 155
154 Graffiti Bridge 107

Total: 34,641

Bowie album sales

David Bowie Blackstar1 Blackstar (23681)
3 Nothing Has Changed (7659)
9 Best of Bowie (2211)
14 The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974 (1511)
21 The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (977)
23 The Next Day (830)
30 The Best of David Bowie 1980/1987 (700)
35 Aladdin Sane (658)
37 Let’s Dance (632)
41 Diamond Dogs (580)
42 Heroes (569)
45 Hunky Dory (549) (40577)
49 The Best of David Bowie 1974/1979 (485)
52 Scary Monsters (469)
72 Sound + Vision (336)
83 Low (293)
95 Station To Station (277)
130 Young Americans (203)
140 Pin-Ups (189)
149 The Man Who Sold The World (180)
162 A Reality Tour (167)
221 Hours (126)
247 Heathen (116)
275 Lodger (103)
283 Space Oddity (102)
378 David Bowie AKA Space Oddity (75)
384 Earthling (73)
411 Outside (69)
485 Reality (52)

Because Bowie had more iconic albums than Prince, Prince fans gravitated to single song downloads pushing seven of his songs into the Australian top 40 this week compared to Bowie’s one Top 40 song following his death ‘Heroes’.

The number of songs reappearing in the chart in the week following each artist’s death – Prince 15, Bowie 16. However, Prince sold many more downloads, mainly because his music was not allowed on YouTube and to hear the songs many fans had to just buy them.

Prince’s 15 tracks sold 69,369 compared to Bowie’s 23,932 sales.

Prince single sales

3 Purple Rain (15177)
11 When Doves Cry (11771)
22 Little Red Corvette (7099)
27 Kiss (6365)
28 1999 (6348)
30 Cream (5922)
31 Raspberry Beret (5835)
50 Diamonds and Pearls (3391)
52 Lets Go Crazy (3353)
89 Controversy (1579)
106 I Wanna Be Your Lover (1288)
112 Nothing Compares 2U (1221)
117 I Would Die 4U (1142)
148 Money Don’t Matter 2 Night (772)
150 Sign O The Times (615)

Total 69369 sales

David Bowie singles sales

36 Heroes (4258)
42 Under Pressure (3760)
63 Lets Dance (2314)
72 Lazarus (2083)
80 Changes (1932)
88 Life On Mars (1659)
101 Blackstar (1433)
106 Sorrow (1343)
107 Modern Love (1313)
110 Rebel Rebel (1291)
111 China Girl (1287)
113 Ashes To Ashes (1259)
122 Ziggy Stardust (1132)
127 Golden Years (1097)
148 Dancing In The Street (923)
165 Young Americans (835)

Total : 23,932 sales


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