Last night’s Grammy wins could be music to the ears of Universal, Vivendi

February 9, 2015, 7:35 PM UTC
Beck Hansen
Beck accepts the award for best rock album for “Morning Phase” at the 57th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Photograph by John Shearer — Invision/AP

Internet pundits might spend Monday debating which recording artists should have taken home golden gramophones at last night’s Grammy awards, but for a few corporations — and the record labels they own — today is a day to celebrate Grammy wins that should help boost revenue.

Alternative rocker Beck and British singer Sam Smith were two of the biggest winners last night. Smith took home four Grammys overall, including the Best New Artist award as well as the awards for the best song and record of the year for “Stay With Me.” Beck took home the other major general category award, as Morning Phase won Album of the Year. The musician also took home the Best Rock Album award.

As it happens, both artists are signed with Capitol Records, a well-known name in the industry that was founded more than 70 years ago and is one of many record labels run by Universal Music Group. Universal and its parent company —French media conglomerate Vivendi (VIV) — stand to see a healthy uptick in album sales in coming weeks thanks to their artists’ high-profile awards. (The artists themselves get a cut of album sales, of course, but labels generally take a larger share.)

Like other major entertainment awards, the Grammys are known to provide a sales bump for the artists and works that find their names printed inside the sealed envelopes. Winners have historically seen a notable increase in record sales following Grammy telecasts.

Two years ago, NPR rounded up post-Grammys sales performances by Album of the Year award winners between 2001 and 2012, finding sales bumps of at least 50% and as much as almost 1000% on Billboard‘s charts. Not surprisingly, the more popular an album is going into the Grammys, the less of a sales bump it is likely to receive after winning. Taylor Swift’s 2010 win for her already popular Fearless album spurred a 58% sales increase while 2008’s surprise winner, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, got a boost of 967% during the week following his own award.

That’s especially good news for Beck, whose album had sold around 300,000 units as of last week, according to Billboard. Sam Smith’s debut album, In the Lonely Hour, had already sold more than 1.3 million copies going into the Grammys, by comparison, which means Beck likely has more room to improve sales based on his win. However, Smith was seeing increased sales even before his big Grammys night, as his album moved up to fourth on the most recent Billboard 200 weekly chart of album sales after placing at ninth the previous week. Beck’s Morning Phase, released almost a year ago, is not on the most recent album chart, for which Billboard tracks retail album sales as well as digital sales and audio streaming results.

Of course, Beck and Sam Smith weren’t the only winners last night as the Grammys gave out awards in 83 total categories. However, all but a handful of those awards are handed out in a non-televised ceremony that covers a wide range of musical genres. Put simply, the big awards — the ones most likely to drive sales — are the few that end up on TV, squeezed in somewhere between performances by artists such as Kanye West, Katy Perry and Electric Light Orchestra.

Other winners from last night’s telecast include hip-hop star Pharrell Williams, who took home three Grammys, including one for the year’s best music video. Williams is signed with Columbia Records, a flagship label owned by Sony (SNE). Another Columbia Records signee, Beyoncé Knowles, also won three Grammys on Sunday, but her night might be best remembered for the reaction online, and at the award show itself, by those who felt the R&B singer should have won the award for the year’s best album, not Beck.

Beyoncé fans took to Twitter (TWTR) en masse to voice their displeasure after she lost the award and Kanye West actually briefly took to the stage during Beck’s acceptance speech in mock protest. West later told reporters that Beck should give his award to Knowles. One thing that is clear, though, is that Knowles’ album is less in need of a sales bump. Beyoncé, her eponymous album, had sold 2.2 million copies as of the beginning of February — or, more than seven times the sales numbers for Beck’s album.

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