If Nielsen Music’s midyear report is indicative of a bigger trend, the news that embattled R&B singer R. Kelly has been arrested again could very well help his streaming numbers.
At least that’s what happened during the first part of 2019. Despite the sexual abuse allegations highlighted in the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” streams of Kelly’s songs increased 13% year-to-year from 2018.
The data reinforce the axiom that there’s no such thing as bad PR. If Kelly is trending on social media, which he has been for the past day, listeners seem unconcerned about whether it’s for good or bad reasons. On Thursday, the artist was arrested in Chicago after being indicted on 13 federal counts, including charges of child pornography, kidnapping and obstruction of justice.
Day-to-day numbers for Kelly’s streams after the Jan. 3-5 Lifetime airing of “Surviving R. Kelly” are telling. Compared with the day prior to the premiere, streams of Kelly’s music rose 116 percent on Jan. 5, according to Billboard. Overall, Kelly’s music tallied 4.3 million streams on Jan. 5, up from just shy of 2 million on Jan. 2.
Currently, Kelly has 4.9 million followers on Spotify, where his top songs have been played hundreds of millions of times. His “Ignition — Remix” has just shy of 400 million plays, and his “I’m a Flirt Remix (feat. T.I. and T. Pain)” has 41 million.
The Nielsen Music report data suggested that Kelly’s not alone regarding the relationship between negative publicity and spin spikes.
In the months after HBO’s airing of the controversial documentary “Finding Neverland,” Michael Jackson’s on-demand streams increased by 41%. Ja Rule’s Fyre Fest debacle helped his numbers.
And much of the pop marketplace long ago forgave the singer Chris Brown, who was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. His new release, “Indigo,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart this past week.