A new study by New York University's Stern Business School tracked blog chatter for 108 albums for four weeks before and after their release dates.
The study showed that the volume of blog posts led to future sales, but that large increases in an artist’s Myspace friends had a weaker correlation to sales. According to the study, if 40 or more blog posts were made before an album's release sales ended up being three to four times times the average for both indie and major releases. If blog posts crossed 250, album sales rose to six times the average regardless of label.
But don't throw out the old school rules just yet. Albums released by major labels and albums with a number of reviews from mainstream sources like Rolling Stone also tended to have higher future sales.
Advertising has always been about impressions, but previous marketing efforts were often aimed at big scores - a magazine cover, a TV apprearance or even a major national tour slot - and the bump in sales they provided. But in a fractured media landscape it seems to be the cumalitve effect of a multitude of impressions that matters. This study provides some early clues for music marketers interested in assessing the relative importance of Web 2.0 sites and metrics and suggest that looking at cumalative online action appears to provide predictive value far beyond looking at each in isolation.