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Following rock legend Tom Petty’s death on Monday, his music experienced huge increases in sales, streams and airplay as fans mourned the singer-songwriter.
Sales Surge: According to Nielsen Music, based on initial U.S. sales reports for Oct. 2 and 3, Petty’s total music sales grew 6,781 percent, as compared to the two previous days (Sept. 30 and Oct. 1).
News broke early on Monday that Petty had been rushed to the hospital after being found unconscious in his home. He died later that day at 8:40 p.m.
On Oct. 2-3, Petty’s catalog of albums and digital songs (including his work with The Heartbreakers, Mudcrutch and supergroup Traveling Wilburys) sold 218,000 combined albums and song downloads — up from just 3,000 sold in the previous two days.
Broken out individually, Petty’s album sales on Oct. 2-3 numbered 55,000 (versus 1,000 in the two previous days), while his digital song sales totaled 163,000 (versus 2,000).
Petty’s top-selling albums following his passing (reflecting sales on Oct. 2 and 3) were his Greatest Hits (32,000), Wildflowers (4,000), Anthology: Through the Years (4,000), Damn the Torpedoes (3,000) and Full Moon Fever (2,000).
His top-five-selling songs for that same Oct. 2-3 time frame were: “Free Fallin’” (21,000 downloads), “I Won’t Back Down” (15,000), “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (12,000), “Learning to Fly” (11,000) and “You Don’t Know How It Feels” (9,000).
“Free Fallin’” became Petty’s third and final top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching No. 7 in 1990. The track also hit No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart — one of his 10 chart-toppers on that list.
All of the above-mentioned albums and songs sold a negligible sales sum in the two days before Petty’s death.
Streaming Petty’s Hits: Fans have turned to streaming services — and Petty’s beloved hit songs — in great numbers.
On Oct. 2, Petty’s music garnered 7 million on-demand audio streams in the U.S. — up 1,149 percent compared to the previous day, when his catalog of tunes logged 562,000 streams.
“Free Fallin’” was not only Petty’s biggest-selling song immediately following his passing, but also his most-streamed tune, as the song collected 530,000 streams on Oct. 2. The rest of his top five most-streamed tracks that day were: “Learning to Fly” (436,000), “Runnin’ Down a Dream” (391,000), “American Girl” (385,000) and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (385,000).
On the Radio: Petty’s music was in heavy rotation on Oct. 2, as news spread about his hospitalization and eventual passing.
His music garnered a 351 percent increase in plays that day, rising to nearly 6,000 spins across all formats of radio (versus a little over 1,000 detections on Oct. 1).
Petty’s most-played tracks on Oct. 2 were: “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That.”
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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