Little Simz collects her BRIT Award (Photo byJM Enternational / John Marshall)
Little Simz collects her BRIT Award (Photo byJM Enternational / John Marshall)

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Win an award, sell lots of records. That used to be the equation (or certainly the presumption) in the music business. In the days and weeks after an award ceremony, record labels would put “award-winning” stickers on the front of LPs and CDs, renewing their promotional efforts and reaping the sales benefits.

In the streaming age, the connection between winning an award and new audiences flocking to your music is immediate. On paper, at least. But just what sort of listening spike can happen after winning a big or a prestigious award? And will the new listeners an award might bring your way actually remain?

We asked to dig into their data to find out – by selecting a range of award-winning albums and tracks (from the Brits and the Grammys, down through the Mercury Prize and the MOBOs, and into the Nordic Music Prize and the Polaris Music Prize) to track how listening patterns change once an award has been bestowed on an artist.

Like awards shows themselves, listening patterns fall into a number of categories. These give some indication of the artist/listener experience when an award is won and the media and public interest that can follow as a result. And while it appears that the effects of an award vary depending on the artist and where they are in their career, it’s clear that winning an award can have a dramatic – or slow-burn – impact.

Adele Easy on Me

#1 The (almost) non-existent impact

Given she is the biggest-selling recording artist in the world, Adele winning an award is only ever going to be the cherry on a planet-sized cake.

The release of her 30 album and her ‘Easy On Me’ single followed a similar arc – a rocket booster immediately put under the release and then a reasonably gentle decline over many, many months.

The single came out in October 2021 and the album followed in November, breaking all manner of sales and streaming records in the process. In February 2022, she won song of the year and album of the year at the Brits, but neither had any noticeable impact on her listening numbers. The album and single had already been out for a number of months and an award was not going to drive huge listening numbers to music that had been played heavily on release.

“According to the generated dataset, we can see that the maximum number of listeners were around the album release date, gradually decreasing over time,” says Anila Sasidharan, senior data engineer at “Based on the data, there is little evidence that an award nomination/win has a direct influence on listeners.”

When you are an act of the scale of Adele, you are your own centre of gravity and external forces, like awards, are immaterial. While it is an obvious point to make that normal rules do not apply to an act like Adele, it does not make it any less true.

Little Simz’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert was a solid performer since its release in September 2021, having a second (albeit smaller) spike towards the end of the year (which could be partly down to its strong performance in album of the year polls).

“The listeners/scrobbles trends based on the charts data is similar to the Adele album,” notes Sasidharan. “The listener percentage was at its peak around the album release, gradually falling over time. The album won the Mercury Prize on 18th October 2022, but did not show an increase in listeners/scrobbles.”

Perhaps it was the long gap between release and winning the Mercury (over a year in this case) that meant the award’s impact was minimal. Simz had already done strong audience building on her own during that time. The award crowned her existing achievement but did not push it into overdrive.

Little Simz

#2 The minimal blip

Dave released his album We’re All Alone In This Together in July 2021 and it eventually won album of the year at the MOBOs in early December 2021. There was a minimal blip that month, suggesting an award drove listens, but only to a point.

There was a slightly bigger increase in listening in early 2022, but that was more likely down to his live shows.

“The average listeners/scrobbles percentages were at the maximum around the album release date,” says Sasidharan. “The listener percentage spike around February and March 2022 could be due to his tour.”

#3 One moment in a series of multiple spikes

Winning awards is fantastic for artists, of course, but they are just one element of a wider marketing and promotional push.

This dynamic is laid out most clearly in the case of Clarissa Connelly’s The Voyager album which won the Nordic Music Prize in November 2021. There was a large spike before the awards, a dynamic that can be partly explained by its nomination before the awards and a flurry of activity in the wake of that.

The November 2021 win saw a jump and then a series of jumps happened through 2022. “There were performances around April and June 2022, which could explain the spikes in the data,” explains Sasidharan.

Touring an award-winning album is always going to garner interest, but it is impossible to separate out the particular impact of the award and the live dates.

The story for Genesis Owusu is highly interesting as a series of spikes happened before his Smiling With No Teeth album won the Australian Music Prize in March 2021.

“The percentage of listeners/scrobbles peaked around the release date, but the maximum spike is around January 2022,” says Sasidharan. “The spike around January-to-March could be due to the nomination announcements.”

#4 The remarkable spike 

Jon Batiste’s We Are album came out in March 2021 and followed a reasonably predictable listening path thereafter. A huge spike on release, a swift drop off, but holding a steady number of listeners for the rest of the year.

In April 2022, it won the album of the year at the Grammys. This immediately saw listens jump sharply and this even passed (if only slightly) the peak of listeners on the album release just over a year before. There was an inevitable drop off, but the percentage of listeners appears to be holding at a strong level in the aftermath of the award.

This is the classic award-winning arc that many might presume is the norm; but as Jon Batiste proves, this is often the exception rather than the rule today.

silk sonic fortnite
Silk Sonic

#5 The solid post-awards growth curve

It was a slightly different Grammys story for Silk Sonic and this perhaps has more to do with the fact that it is a single rather than an album as listening behaviour around individual tracks is characteristically different to listening behaviour around whole albums.

Leave The Door Open’ was released in March 2021, listening dropped off sharply but then grew steadily to October 2021 before dropping again. By April 2022, however, the story was very different. This is when it won the Grammy for song of the year.

There was a predictable upswing in streams, but it did not peak and fall sharply. Rather it grew solidly and consistently throughout the rest of the year, showing that an award win will not just breathe new life into a song but also give it a much more interesting afterlife (and longevity) a whole year after its original release.

*Note: we selected the Mobos 2021 and the Nordic Music Prize 2021 (rather than their 2022 incarnations) to allow for analysis of data running for several months after the awards. The 2022 awards took place towards the end of the year so would not have provided enough long-term data to analyse.

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