While retailers are happy that last night's highly rated Grammy Awards broadcast should fuel sales and agree at least that some of those artists will be beneficiaries of the show's broadcast, they say it is unlikely the show will produce a breakaway big seller.
At Hastings Entertainment, buyers are betting that Mumford & Sons (who performed at the show and were Best New Artist nominees) will be a winner, but they are also betting that the Black Keys (Best Alternative Album) and Bruno Mars (a prominent performer at the show) will enjoy a sales pickup.
In the week prior to the show, the chain placed bets on those three artists, giving them prime in-store position at the cash registers; and were rewarded with a 150% sales pick-up for each album, according to VP and divisional merchandise manager Phil McConnell at Hastings Entertainment, the Amarillo, Texas-based chain, which operates 146 media super stores.
After Mumford & Sons, McConnell anticipates that Arcade Fire will be the second-biggest sales beneficiary from the show, but he said the chain can handle a resurgence in demand for that band because it has "plenty of stock out there" on the album. But he said the Avett Brothers might also enjoy a sales surge, and if that occurs, "we are a little less prepared for that."
Up at 440-unit, Albany, N.Y.-based Trans World Entertainment, buyer Mark Hudson thinks that Arcade Fire will be the big sales winner. "They won and they played and a lot of people who didn't know them have now seen them," he said.
He also said that the Bruno Mars, B.o.B and Janelle Monae turned in a strong tandem performance and thinks that Mars and Monae in particular cold see a sales surge.
In New York City at J&R Music World, senior store manager Charlie Bagarozza said, "Absolutely, Cee-Lo Green stole the show and will see the biggest sales pick-up. Arcade Fire has already sold phenomenally well for us and still has longevity, but we think it will sell a lot more because of the show. Its good to see indie rock getting respect at the Grammys." He added that Muse should also sell well because they put on an "amazing show" during the broadcast.
But Hastings McConnell thinks "the Muse album has done pretty well" and adds that most people are aware of them, more than, say, Arcade Fire or Mumford & Sons.
Merchants think that Esperanza Spalding, who won the Grammy for best new artist, could see sales action, but they also feel that the Grammy's missed an opportunity to really help the artist shine and sales to fly by not having her perform.
The Holy Grail for the record industry is when an album comes out of nowhere, wins and sales explodes the way Bonnie Raitt's "Nick Of Time" did back in 1989, before SoundScan. That album was the Esperanza Spalding album of its day, but it went on to sell about 5 million records, with Capital chasing the album sales for weeks trying to get back into in stock on the record. Other albums that enjoyed a sales bonanza would be Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company" album (released shortly after his death in 2004), and more recently Robert Plant and Allison Krauss' "Raising Sand," which scored another 350,000 units after their Album of the Year Grammy win in 2009.
To a lesser degree, Herbie Hancock's "River: the Joni Letters," took off in 2008 after its Grammy win. The album, released on Sept. 25, 2008, had moved 60,000 units up until the Grammy broadcast on Feb. 10, 2009. After that it sold another 140,000 units in the next seven weeks to get up to about 200,000 units. Its total as of this past Feb. 6 stood at almost 291,000 units.
Spalding's album "could blow up like Herbie Hancock did, so she might get a week or two of sales," said Trans World's Hudson. "But I don't think anyone is the wiser on her because she didn't perform and the guy from 'Glee' was talking over her and few people know who she is. It's a shame that the jazz 'performance' immediately following her award was botched, because that would have been a great opportunity to showcase at least one of her songs. As it is we now have to rely on the curiosity of the customers to see if they really want to dig in and discover who she is."
Nevertheless, he said Trans World has maintained high levels of inventory for her, even though she hasn't been selling much over the last few weeks. J&R is also prepared for Spalding sales, said Bagarozza, who said the artist is one of their favorites because she has already played "a couple of our jazz festivals for us. "She deserved to win because she works very hard and is very talented," he said.
Hudson also feels John Legend was another missed opportunity. "If he had performed with the Roots, that would have made more people aware of their 'Wake Up!' album."
But as for the big winners and superstar performers, McConnell said he expects to see a sales spike, but not a big surge. For example, he said Lady Gaga will see a sales pick-up, but it's already a mega-titles. Likewise, Lady Antebellum is already a "huge record" for the chain, so they expect a spike for them but not a sales onslaught. Trans World Hudson's has the same opinion, saying "Lady Antebellum is selling boatloads anyway."
It's too bad, Lady Gaga has no new albums out because this morning, shoppers were coming into the store looking for one. "She created buzz for the album, thanks to the new song she performed ('Born This Way')," which is available on iTunes and scanned 440,000 units over the weekend, according to industry sources -- and is expected to become the Billboard Hot 100's 1000th No. 1 this week.
While Justin Bieber, the nominee, was shut out for the major awards, he was all over the awards, with a solo acoustic performance and a dance number with his mentor Usher.
"Last week, Bieber's albums had a big sales pickup, but I think that was more due to anticipation of the [Feb. 11] release of the ['Never Say Never'] movie than the Grammys," said McConnell. "We will watch Bieber inventory real closely, especially the new ['Never Say Never' remix EP]." Sources told Billboard that Island Def Jam Music Group shipped 500,000 units of that record.
Little sales benefit is predicted for the show's older performers: Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand and Mick Jagger. "Jagger was fun [in his Solomon Burke tribute] but he doesn't have anything out there to sell," said Trans World's Hudson.