Chart Beat

Like One Direction, Panic! at the Disco Sales Spike After Member Leaves

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Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith of Panic! At the Disco perform at The Greek Theatre on August 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. 

Last Thursday. Panic! at the Disco revealed that Spencer Smith -- the band's drummer and only original member aside from frontman Brendon Urie -- was leaving the band after 10 years.

Now, for the first time ever, it's time to start comparing them to One Direction.

When Zayn Malik announced he was leaving One Direction after five years, 1D saw a significant spike in album sales for the period ending March 29, 2015. Their most recent album, Four, jumped 51 percent in album sales, while their debut album, Up All Night, enjoyed a 113 percent sales boost.

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Similarly, Panic! at the Disco are currently experiencing a post-departure sales spike. Even though Spencer Smith announced his exit halfway through the most recent sales week (period ending April 5, 2015), that revelation caused Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! -- their most recent album -- and their debut, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, to reenter the Billboard 200 chart at Nos. 198 and 200, respectively. 

In terms of pure album sales, Too Rare saw a 25 percent increase compared to the previous week, per Nielsen Music. Similar to 1D, PATD's debut album, Fever, saw an even greater sales boost: 87 percent.

So why does news that a band member is leaving spur people to buy more albums? 

For starters, it's important to remember that not every fan of a band owns all their albums. Some of these sales are probably from people who had been meaning to buy the album for a while, but just needed a reminder -- like seeing the band in the news. 

Tied into that, when a band breaks up or loses members, some people feel the need to buy a piece of the band's good ole days. When I wrote about 1D's post-Zayn sales spike last week, a comment from "Jessica" stuck out to me as revelatory. "I bought Four BECAUSE Zayn left, and I wanted to have his last album with the rest of One Direction. Probably won't buy any of their albums from now on, but I'll still listen to 1D," she wrote.

In a sense, buying the last album the group produced as a unit is like buying a time capsule as an era comes to an end. It's likely that some of the recent sales of Too Rare fall into that category.

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As for Fever's massive 87 percent spike, a portion of that is probably from people who bought the record back in the day and lost track of it over the years. After all, Fever came out in 2005 when buying a CD was very much still a thing. It's easy to imagine a number of fans lost (or irreparably scratched) their copy of Fever and repurchased it last week after hearing about Smith's departure.

If Panic continues to inadvertently imitate 1D, their album sales could increase even more come the next sales period. As of the period ending April 5, 2015, 1D's Four and Midnight Memories are still in the Billboard 200 -- and the weekly sales numbers for those albums have increased yet again. So next week could see PATD jump even higher.