Death as a Positive Career Move

Take a look at this graph. It’s a Google trends snapshot, measuring interest in David Bowie (as in the number of Google searches) over time.

Bowie interest over time.

Guess where on the timeline he died.

Bobby points us to ReadThink.com and a discussion of death as a career move.

In its first week, Blackstar sold 181,000 equivalent album units in the United States, a figure that’s based on sales of physical albums as well as streaming activity and digital downloads.

But Bowie is by no means the only musician to posthumously reach #1 on the charts with a new album.

In 1971, for example, Janis Joplin’s Pearl was released three months after her death and remained at #1 for 9 weeks. The album was later certified quadruple-platinum, selling 4 million+ units.

In 1994, Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York was released approximately seven months after frontman Kurt Cobain’s death. That album debuted at #1 and would go on to sell 5 million units over the course of the next three years.

A final example: In 1997, the Notorious B.I.G.’s appropriately titled album Life After Death (a follow-up to 1994’s Ready to Die) was released a mere two weeks after Biggie’s passing. In addition to reaching #1 on the charts, it became one of the first hip hop albums to ever earn the RIAA’s Diamond certification, selling 10 million+ units by the year 2000.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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