R. Kelly’s album sales skyrocket by 500 percent after sex crimes conviction

Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly has seen a spike in streaming and album revenue following his recent sex-trafficking conviction.

Rolling Stone reports that Kelly’s album sales have shot up by 517 percent, while streams of his music jumped from 11.2 million to 13.4 million. Hit singles like Ignition (Remix), Bump n’ Grind, and I Believe I Can Fly are seeing a surge in popularity.

Last month, the 54 year old was found guilty of sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, racketeering, and sex trafficking involving five victims. He is yet to be sentenced and faces ten years to life behind bars.

Image: pitchfork.com

Kelly’s guilty verdict was handed down on September 27. In the week following (up to October 3), his on-demand audio streams increased by 22 percent, while video streams rose by 23 percent.

In response to the jury’s findings, YouTube has removed two of the singer’s channels from the platform; RKellyTV and RKellyVevo. Kelly’s music is still available on YouTube Music and other streaming services.

Spotify and Apple Music claim to have “muted” the singer on their sites by preventing him from being featured on curated playlists.

While R. Kelly’s guilty verdict brought on a spike in streams, his music has seen increased engagement throughout the entirety of 2021. This is in spite of horrific witness testimony being brought to light during his highly-publicised trial.

The 2019 multi-part Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly is widely credited with bringing about the singer’s reckoning after years of criminal accusations, although even after the documentary’s release fans attended pop-up concerts headlined by Kelly. 

Rolling Stone made note of the phenomenon of music artists experiencing a rapid increase in their revenue whilst dealing with controversy.

Earlier this year, in a similar situation, country music star Morgan Wallen was condemned for using a racial slur, which he subsequently apologised for. During the controversy, his album sales rose 1,220 percent. 

Unfortunately in these scenarios, the saying that ‘any publicity is good publicity’ reigns true.