The adage is all publicity is good publicity, and publicity equates to sales. But according to Billboard data, this isn't necessarily the case. When nude photos of artists Cassie and Rihanna leaked earlier this month, the numbers prove that while there was indeed a huge increase in internet buzz chatter there was no affect on sales.
On May 5, Rihanna made her first public appearance since her alleged assault the night of the Grammy Awards by ex-boyfriend/singer Chris Brown, at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala. But the 21-year-old Barbados-born singer, born Robyn Fenty, made headlines once again – this time for a series of nude photos that hit the internet just four days later (view photos here).
According to Nielsen SoundScan figures, the unwanted publicity served no purpose as far as her single sales figures are concerned. On the week ending May 3rd, Rihanna had 45,000 total downloads on songs by her or with her as a guest. The week ending May 10th, her numbers dropped to 44,000.
Same thing for Cassie Ventura, better known as R&B singer Cassie. Just two days before the Rihanna pictures appeared, Cassie own computer was hacked and topless photos of her hit the net. The next day, more explicit photos leaked, this time of Cassie fully unclothed (view photos here and here). Still, Cassie's numbers stayed flat with 2,000 downloads both weeks.
While sales remained essentially unchanged, buzz chatter definitely increased (see chart below).
On May 5th, blog buzz on Rihanna jumped 133% vs. the day before. It continued upward, jumping 93% more between May 5th, when she made her first public appearance, and May 9th, when the alleged nude photos leaked online. Blog buzz for Rihanna hit another peak on May 11th, when Brown's camp issued a statement on his behalf.
Same for Twitter buzz. According to Twist.com, a web-based client and statistical tracker of Twitter trends, chatter on Rihanna increased by 0.37% at the 5 p.m. EST hour on May 8th. Cassie also saw a significant jump: On May 7, chatter about her increased 268% as compared to the day before, and increased again by 15% between May 7, when the initial photos leaked, and May 8th, when the more explicit images emerged online. As for the twitter buzz on Cassie, Twist.flaptor.com reports that it went up 0.24% at the same time and same day as Rihanna.
Both Cassie and Rihanna's labels tried to get ahead of the situations. Cassie released a statement via her Twitter account, stating the images were hacked from her computer and nonchalantly suggesting folks stop acting like they've "never seen a [breast] before."
On May 8th, Rihanna's label Def Jam sent cease and desist letters to outlets who published the photos, claiming the images violate "the Artist's rights." The label neither confirmed nor denied whether it is actually Rihanna in the photos. Then, on May 11th, after various websites claimed Brown was responsible for leaking Rihanna's pictures, his team put a statement stating: "This is both a false and defamatory statement. Chris has not released or ‘leaked' any photos of Rihanna (or anyone else for that matter)."