Women in Music 2019

Sam Smith's Bond Song Sales Jump After Oscar Win, But Lady Gaga Gains More

Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Sam Smith at the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on Feb. 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  

After Sam Smith bested four competitors for the 2016 best original song Academy Award, he walked away with more than just Oscar gold -- he earned a healthy boost in sales too.

Smith's Spectre song "Writing's on the Wall" -- which sold nearly 4,000 digital downloads in the week prior to the Oscars (sales period ending Feb. 25, 2016) -- sold close to 22,000 digital downloads the week of the Oscars ceremony (period ending March 3, 2016), according to Nielsen Music. That's a 466 percent increase in sales. Not a bad bonus to that gold statue.

Even though Smith won the 2016 Oscar, Lady Gaga's best original song-nominated single actually experienced a much larger sales boost.

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"Til It Happens to You," from the documentary The Hunting Ground, moved fewer than 2,000 downloads during the pre-Oscars sales period. During the week of the 2016 Oscars, her song with Diane Warren soared to nearly 28,000 downloads -- that's a massive 2,120 percent sales increase. Undoubtedly, Gaga's performance at the 88th Academy Awards -- which found her sharing the stage with dozens of sexual assault survivors and was one of the night's most memorable moments -- helped propel the song to its best-ever digital sales week. According to Gaga's YouTube page, "A portion of proceeds from the sale of the song will be donated to organizations helping survivors of sexual assault."

Both Gaga and Smith outpaced what fellow nominee/performer The Weeknd earned for his Fifty Shades of Grey song. "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)" went from moving nearly 7,000 downloads in the pre-Oscars sales week to slightly more than 15,000 during the week of the Oscars. That's a 131 percent increase -- significant, but not close to what the songs from Gaga and Smith experienced.

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Part of the reason is undoubtedly that "Earned It" isn't the current single he's promoting, whereas Smith's "Writing's on the Wall" and Gaga's "Til It Happens to You" are their current singles. "Earned It," which peaked much higher on the Hot 100 than either Gaga or Smith's Oscar nominated songs, has been out for well over a year. In the meantime, he's notched two No. 1 hits on the Hot 100 and is currently positioned at No. 28 with "In the Night" (That song, incidentally, moved more downloads during Oscars week than "Earned It"). So while they're currently promoting their Oscar songs, the Weeknd has long moved on.

As for how this year's post-Oscars boost measures up to last year's, that's not an entirely fair comparison we can make. Since the 2015 Oscars, Nielsen changed the start and ends days of its tracking week -- Last year, the Oscars tracking week ended on Sunday, allowing for less than a day of post Oscar gains. This year, it ended on Thursday, allowing for four full days of post-Oscar gains. 

Oscars 2016


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