Ten years ago, even the most shocking entertainer’s rise to stardom was missing the accelerating momentum of social media. While fame’s appeal lies within its ambiguity, we do know it accelerates with rapid conversation.
Lady Gaga has played a hand in manipulating fame to her advantage, emerging this year as arguably the hottest pop star on the planet. She’s done this by developing the image of a shock artist — wearing futuristic attire, sculpted hair styles and glittery makeup to complete her socially disruptive persona that ultimately drives the popularity and consumption of her music. Today, Lady Gaga isn’t just popular; she’s rapidly accelerating in popularity.
Lady Gaga By the Numbers
On Twitter, the phrase “Lady Gaga” has averaged over ten thousand mentions per day over the past three months, soaring in frequency past other 2010 Grammy performers. Does the buzz translate into commercial success? Do people actually listen to Gaga’s music, or is she merely a spectacle?
As it turns out, Lady Gaga’s Twitter buzz isn’t just noise — it’s backed up by consumption data. Take, for instance, her number of listeners on Last.fm. They continue to rise, with an accelerating upward trajectory beginning last fall when she appeared on Saturday Night Live with Madonna.
As the graph above shows, Lady Gaga’s rise in popularity has been meteoric even in the last month when she surpassed John Mayer in listeners. While Lady Gaga’s wardrobe stunts and persona stir conversation, the data suggests that people are actually listening to her music, as well.
The same holds true for MySpace listeners. As the data suggests, she maintains a strong position against other pop icons such as Jay-Z, and Rihanna.
Lady Gaga wins again versus another global star, Beyonce, who peaked in November coinciding with the Kanye West / Taylor Swift VMA incident. While it’s obvious that both stars are frequent press items, the key insight gained from comparing the slopes of the trend lines indicates the accelerating social momentum Gaga has built over the past six months.
With consumption of Lady Gaga’s music skyrocketing on social sites where users do not pay to listen, one key fact is clear; she remains a strong performer where it counts: music sales. A final question worth considering: if there was an absence of free channels to hear Gaga, would her album sales be higher? Or, does the social media universe only perpetuate and support her existing successful career?