Although MTV's Video Music Awards dropped 18 percent in the ratings compared to last year's show – Blue Ivy and a Nicki Minaj wardrobe malfunction couldn't compete with Miley Cyrus' iconic tongue – the show gave music sales a huge and much-needed bump.
Beyoncé's performance of every song on Beyoncé, which culminated with Jay Z and their baby daughter handing her the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, pushed the pop superstar's latest album from Number 40 to Number Seven on iTunes; sales for her "Flawless" and "XO' singles rose more than 1,200 percent apiece; Minaj's singles jumped 215 percent; pre-orders for Maroon 5's upcoming V went up 166 percent; and Sam Smith, Ariana Grande and 5 Seconds of Summer were among the performers with big sales boosts.
The annual VMA bump appears, in the initial few days after the broadcast, to be more pronounced than the one in 2014, when Cyrus pulled off the "Twerk Heard 'Round the World" and increased sales of her hit "Wrecking Ball" 124 percent, from Number Eight to Number Five, on Billboard's Digital Songs chart. That may be, in part, because despite the Sunday-night ratings of just 8.3 million, repeat airings pushed the viewership to 13.7 million. (Overall weekly music-sales numbers, reflecting the overall VMA effect on performers, won't come out via Billboard until mid-next week.)
The record business, in transition from downloads to streaming, has been suffering from dismal online sales in recent years – so far this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan, album sales are down 15 percent and tracks are down 13 percent.