Could it be that last year was a better year to perform at the VMAs?
Following the MTV award show in Los Angeles last week, there has been a lot of talk about how the event was less successful than it has been in previous years. Perhaps caused by the calendar clash with President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, as well as Fashion’s Night Out, the numbers reported by Nielsen indicate that less music fans than usual tuned in to watch the annual event. So did artists like Rihanna, Green Day and Taylor Swift get less out of taking to the stage, than those who performed last year?
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Using Wikipedia page views as an indicator of the interest spurred by a VMA performance, it all depends on how you read the numbers. While Best New Artist winners One Direction had almost 900,000 views in the past week, more than any of the performers at the past two shows, including Beyoncé who brought big buzz with her baby bump last year, this was less than a 10 percent increase in comparison to the week preceding. Beyoncé on the other hand, saw more than a 240 percent increase with 545,000 views in the week following her VMA performance and was topped only by Adele, whose Wikipedia page was checked out more than 575,000 times.
Last year, Jessie J., Bruno Mars and Young The Giant all saw increases of more than 100 percent, comparing the week before and after, whereas only Frank Ocean saw that much more activity this year. Rihanna, Green Day, Alicia Keys and show-stopper Taylor Swift, all saw less than a 100 percent increase in the same time frame. All the performers did see a spike in views the day of the award show, meaning that a performance at the VMAs does indeed bring additional attention to you as an artist.
Looking at some of the numbers for rapper Lil’ Wayne, who performed last year and also joined 2 Chainz on stage this Thursday squeezing in a quick stage dive for the fans, it seems he did attract more buzz in 2011. While he could boast a fairly typical number of close to 230,000 new Facebook page likes in the days surrounding the VMAs last year, this time around he saw a decrease of more than 20 percent in comparison to the week before. He did see a large boost in new Twitter followers, adding more than 20,000 the day of the performance, however, last year that number was almost double.
The specific reasons for a decrease in interest are still up for speculation, but it seems as though the assumption holds true. Simply put, last year was just a better year for performing at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Liv Buli is the resident data journalist for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Buli is a graduate of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and her work has appeared in Newsweek Daily Beast, The New York Times Local East Village, Westchester Magazine and more.