What Is a Grammy Win Worth? Some Earn 6-Figure Bonuses

Taylor Swift
Francis Specker/CBS via Getty Images

Taylor Swift at THE 63rd ANNUAL GRAMMY® AWARDS, broadcast live from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on March 14, 2021.

At the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on March 14, the night’s leading artists and performers took home gold statues, press, praise -- and extra cash.

Based on Billboard's calculations, artists featured at the awards -- whether as nominees, winners or performers -- can see surges in their sales and streams earnings ranging from 4% to nearly 400% the week-of and week after the ceremony. That can mean big money.

Take Taylor Swift, who won album of the year for Folklore and performed three songs during the ceremony, including Folklore lead single "Cardigan," which was up for song of the year. Earnings from Folklore bounced 52.6% from a total of close to $377,000 during the two weeks leading up to the broadcast to $575,000 during the week of and week following. (Billboard’s estimates are based on MRC Data activity counts for the sales and streams – including on-demand and programmed audio and video streams – of songs and albums in the two tracking weeks before and after the broadcast; and blended wholesale rates for CDs, downloads and streams.)

That jump translates to an eye-popping gain of more than $198,000 for Swift and her label, Republic Records -- enough to buy around 33,000 of the oat milk lattes Swift says fuel her songwriting sessions. During the same period, Swift also enjoyed a 12.2% bump in revenue across her full catalog, translating to an earnings bonus of $184,000 to $1.7 million -- although it's impossible to know how any of these funds would be split amongst rights holders without a look at Swift's recording contracts (or those of any of the artists mentioned here).

Song wins in the Big Four categories can make a notable difference, too. Billie Eilish earned record of the year for the tender "Everything I Wanted," which the superstar also performed at the show. The song's sales and streaming earnings jumped 31.1% in the period (from close to $44,000 to $57,000), translating to a gain of more than $13,000 for Eilish and Interscope Records. H.E.R. and her co-writers Dernst Emile II and Tiara Thomas took home song of the year for protest song "I Can’t Breathe," and the song's recorded master earnings rose 354.9%, a jump equal to $6,000.

Best new artist winner Megan Thee Stallion, who is signed to 300 Entertainment, performed a medley including "Savage" and "WAP" with Cardi B, which propped up both songs. Earnings from "Savage" and its Beyoncé remix (which won best rap performance and best rap song) grew 16.5%, equaling almost $9,000. Earnings from "WAP" grew only 4.3% to nearly $103,000 for the period, which still amounted to an increase of $4,000.

Other artists who performed and won awards outside the Big Four saw earnings spikes, too. Harry Styles' show-opening rendition of "Watermelon Sugar," which won best pop solo performance, helped fuel a revenue increase to $80,000 for the song, a 44.9% uptick, or about $25,000 more for Styles and Columbia Records for the period two weeks after the ceremony.

Warner Records star Dua Lipa's performance of "Levitating" -- off best pop vocal album winner Future Nostalgia -- drove a 28% increase in the song’s earnings, from the $141,000 the song garnered in the two weeks before the ceremony to nearly $181,000 in the two weeks following -- an increase of almost $40,000. Her catalog earnings also rose 28.9%, translating to a $139,000 bonus.

Grammy performances alone can also lead to earnings boosts in the five figures. BTS' "Dynamite" didn’t win for best pop group/duo performance, but after the K-pop superstars performed the hit at the ceremony, its earnings rose 24.6% from $100,000 in the two weeks before the show to $125,000 the two weeks afterwards, a $25,000 gain. Overall, BTS' entire music catalog earnings escalated in the same period from $1.05 million to $1.114 million.

Lil Baby's politically-charged performance of "The Bigger Picture," which was nominated for two awards, helped the song’s earnings jump 31.5% to nearly $45,000, an increase of about $11,000. Black Pumas' performance of "Colors" led to a 127.1% earnings rise, equaling almost $11,000. Post Malone's performance of "Hollywood’s Bleeding," the title track from his album of the year-nominated LP, fueled a 54.8% earnings increase, equaling close to $9,000. And Mickey Guyton's "Black Like Me" didn’t take home the gold for best country solo performance, but her heartfelt performance and nomination led to a 373.2% jump in earnings, equal to almost $7,000.

In contrast, back when the sales model was the music industry’s economic driver, the Grammy Awards offered much bigger pre-show and after-show glows, revenue-wise. Adele enjoyed one of the biggest Grammys-fueled sales surges in history after the Feb. 12, 2012 ceremony for her album of the year winner, sophomore album 21. The album -- which was released in January 2011 and had already sold some 6 million copies before the Grammys ceremony -- saw sales jump from 122,000 units two weeks before the ceremony to 237,000 units in the week preceding the Grammys, for a total of 359,000 CDs and album downloads.

In the week after, sales exploded to 730,000 copies, and in the week after that, 21 moved another 297,000 copies, for a total of 1.026 million copies, an increase of 185.6%, according to MRC Data. Track sales from that album in the two weeks before the ceremony totaled nearly 822,000 downloads, while in the two weeks afterwards, track downloads jumped to nearly 1.28 million, an increase of 55.8%. (Memorably, the ceremony took place the day after Whitney Houston’s death, drawing more viewers to the broadcast.)

Adele’s 2008 debut album, 19, also saw increased activity, with album sales doubling from 86,000 to 190,000 -- an increase of 121% -- while track sales nearly doubled from 21,000 downloads to 38,000 units.
(Back then, 21 carried an $11.98 list price, which implies a wholesale cost of $7.79, while 19 carried a $12.98 list price with an implied wholesale of $8.43. The digital albums were likely $9.99 with a $7 wholesale price, and tracks were likely 99 cents with a wholesale price of 70 cents.)

All in, Columbia/Sony collected $9.75 million in revenue for Adele's sales activity in the two weeks after the 2012 Grammys broadcast, versus $3.77 million in the two weeks before the broadcast -- a 227.4% rise.

That was probably the biggest revenue bonanza for an artist in the last 30 years, but it was hardly an isolated phenomenon for Grammy winners and show performers during the years when the industry was dependent on the sales model. Norah JonesCome Away With Me in 2003 and Santana's Supernatural in 2000 -- which both carried a $17.98 list price that implies an $11.70 wholesale cost -- saw big sales jump and revenue gains. The Jones album went from 144,000 copies in the week before the Grammys to 621,000 in the week after, which means that EMI took in $7.27 million in revenue from that week’s sales; while the Santana album experienced a sales jump from 219,000 copies in the week before to 583,000 copies in the week after, meaning that Arista garnered $6.82 million.

In the current economic model, the revenue stream has a longer tail in reaching the instant gratification levels achieved during the sales heyday -- but there is always a greater potential to eventually surpass the sales revenue levels. Once an album was sold back then, that was the end of the revenue stream on that album from the customer to the artist and label. Now, that customer can generate revenue for a title beyond whatever wholesale cost it carries.

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