Music Business

Tupac Sees Streaming Bump For Milestone Anniversary Of Death

1On the 20th anniversary of the hip hop legend's death, Tupac Shakur is seeing a massive bump in his streaming numbers, as well as a marked uptick in social media activity


Guest post by Liv Buli of Next Big Sound

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A wall dedicated to the memory of US rapper Tupac Shakur is seen on May 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

It may seem crazy, but this week marks 20 years since Tupac Shakur was killed.

On Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur was riding in a car with then Death Row Records CEO Marion “Suge” Knight in Las Vegas, when he was gunned down by an unknown assailant. He died of his injuries six days later. As is often the case when an anniversary or other major event serves to remind us of an artist posthumously, a surge in activity inevitably follows.

This past Tuesday (the actual anniversary itself), numbers were up across the board for Shakur. Just a few examples: roughly 21,000 new stations were added on Pandora, more than 3x the number of stations added just one day earlier. A Tupac forever graphic on his official Twitter account was retweeted close to 900 times, and there was a 122.5% increase in mentions of his handle this week. While the number of page likes for his Facebook profile has actually been declining at an average rate of 468 likes per day over the past month (this is not unusual for artists with an outsized following on the platform), he added close to 2,500 new page likes on Tuesday.

We were already listening to Shakur’s body of work at a pretty steady clip. His total spin count on Pandora is just shy of a staggering five billion — 18 million of which happened in just the past week — there are about 26 million stations seeded with either the artist or his individual tracks. His Facebook page has more than 20 million likes in total, and his YouTube channel is pulling in an average of 2.3 million video views each week.

Tupac isn’t the only deceased artist that sees a lift associated with the anniversary of his death. On July 23, daily Pandora station adds near doubled for Amy Winehouse. February 11, more than 4,000 new stations were added for Whitney Houston, her average in the month leading up to that was closer to 2,400. Michael Jackson’s station adds were 1.4x the average on June 25, and Nirvana saw a comparable lift on the anniversary of lead singer Kurt Cobain’s death on April 5.

Comparing the impact, what stands out is a significantly larger lift on Pandora for Tupac than for the rest of the artists in this group. There could be more than one reason for this. As a genre, hip hop is wildly popular on the platform; 60% of the top artists in July were hip hop artists, compared to only 15% on terrestrial radio. What is more, while each of these artists have comparable fan followings online, Tupac has the most listeners on Pandora, and sees a higher daily level of spins, thumbs and station adds than the rest of the them.

However, the lift for Tupac was far less exaggerated on this date in 2015. This means the more likely culprit is that 20 years marks a milestone anniversary, resulting in more extensive press coverage (this article included), reminding listeners to tune in to the artist.

I, for one, am off to listen to California Love.


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