What happens after we die? In Tom Petty's case, it's a spike in record sales.

4 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Trends

There's no doubt that famous musicians' record sales often spike after their deaths. Because we track recent sales-rank data at e-commerce giant Amazon, we thought it would be interesting to see the cateogry rank sales data for recently-deceased Tom Petty.

Sadly, we lost Petty on October 2, 2017. The very next day, his best-hits record titled "Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Greatest Hits" shot to the number-one spot in Amazon's CDs and Vinyl Category (we didn't track digital downloads or plays - but that would be another interesting story for another time).

As people celebrated Petty's musical career, his record remained at the top - or near - for weeks. But it wasn't to last, and it is just now (as of publication) falling off the top-100 published category ranking.

This is, at the very least, a fascinating look at how an artist's death may affect record sales. The album remains #28 for all of 2017. For comparison, Amy Winehouse remains at #29 for 2017, and her post-mortem career is an interesting study in itself, likely with a bit of a longer tail.

Data notes: As you see in the chart above, his record shot to #1 on October 3. The number "80" represents a zero point, as that's the lowest ranking the record has seen as of today. We reversed this axis in order to represent the ranking as a Y-axis height over time just to show the record's decline since Petty's death. We'll be doing the same for other artists as major events may (or may not) affect their sales rankings at major retailers like Amazon.

Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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