Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Whitney Houston's Sales Surge

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Whitney Houston's Sales Surge

Article excerpt

A mix of triumph and tragedy helped make last Sunday's Grammy Awards the second-most-watched broadcast in Grammys history. The same effect was clear in record sales, with big gains for Adele, the night's champion, and for Whitney Houston, the pop goddess whose death the day before cast a somber shadow over the ceremony.

Following a pattern familiar from the death of Michael Jackson, Ms. Houston's music rocketed back on the charts and radio playlists as news of her death spread. For the week that ended Feb. 12, Ms. Houston had a nearly 60-fold increase in album sales, virtually all of it digital, and equivalent boosts in track downloads and online streaming.

She sold 101,000 albums in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, compared with 1,700 the week before, and 91,000 of those albums were sold digitally; she also had 887,000 downloads of individual tracks, up from 15,000 the week before. "I Will Always Love You," the most popular song, was downloaded 195,000 times, and from Saturday to Monday it had 2,137 spins on the radio, up from 134 during the same period the week before, according to BDS, Nielsen's radio monitoring arm.

Spotify, the online music service, said that last Sunday there were 2.4 million streams of Ms. Houston's songs, up 4,000 percent from the day before.

At her peak in the 1980s and '90s Ms. Houston was one of pop's dominant sellers, with 11 No. 1 hits and 55 million U.S. album sales, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. But in recent years her career had stalled, and, like Mr. Jackson's, her public image was often more associated with tawdry tabloid headlines than with her music. Her last Top 10 hit, in 2001, was a rerelease of her Super Bowl performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from 10 years before.

With a low sales baseline Ms. Houston's numbers last week were not enough to give her the top-selling album. Her collection "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" (Arista) reached No. 6 on Billboard's latest album chart with 64,000 sales, up from only about 600 the week before.

Her death brought her back to the spotlight, but some in the music industry questioned how long the interest would last. …

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