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"The Oprah Effect": Winfrey the "Holy Grail" for Album Sales

November 17, 2009 12:58 PM ET

As album sales continue to slide, the music industry keeps searching for ways to make record releases big events. There have been partnerships with big retailers (like Walmart's exclusive on AC/DC's Black Ice), major live events (like Jay-Z's blitz before The Blueprint 3 dropped), and special fan contests (like the artwork scavenger hunt Pearl Jam hosted for Backspacer). But there's one sure-fire way to guarantee an album's success: get Oprah Winfrey's stamp of approval.

Michael Buble's Crazy Love recently topped the charts after the Canadian crooner appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, leading Variety to examine the so-called "Oprah Effect." "Oprah is the one thing everyone wants," Reprise Records president Diarmuid Quinn told Variety. "If you get that call back from her production people, my God, it's the Holy Grail."

Oprah's Book Club has long been credited for catapulting under-the-radar reads to the top of bestseller lists, and the daytime queen's power of promotion has had no problems crossing over into music. Recent Oprah success stories include Whitney Houston's I Look to You and Barbra Streisand's Love is the Answer, which surprised many by beating out new albums by Paramore and Mariah Carey to top the charts. Variety suggests Oprah saved Journey, too. A year after the band's Revelation was released, they appeared on Winfrey's October 5th episode. The next week, sales of Revelation jumped 681 percent.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the Oprah's King Midas touch is Josh Groban. In October 2007, the singer's Christmas album Noel debuted quietly on the Billboard Top 200, but after appearing as one of "Oprah's Favorite Things" seven weeks after its release, sales of Noel exploded, and the record topped the charts in early December after being featured on the Winfrey Show. Noel spent five consecutive weeks atop the charts, a record for a Christmas album, experiencing a sales increase each of those five weeks following the Oprah show. By year's end, Noel ended up with just over 3.5 million in sales, making it the best-selling album of 2007. Thanks, Oprah!

Related Stories:
On the Charts: Buble Eclipses "New Moon," Dylan Defeats Archuleta in "Christmas" Battle
On the Charts: Knocking Josh Groban Out of the Top Spot Proves Harder Than Finding a Nintendo Wii
On the Charts: Groban Overtakes Keys Thanks to Oprah and Jesus

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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