The Eminem Case Study: Why Traditional, “Dying” Channels Still Work

  • Save

Eminem is one of the lucky ones.

Once an obscure rapper, Eminem was smartly plucked-and-pumped by Dr. Dre in the 90s, and enjoyed superstardom before ‘digital disruption’ entered the lexicon.  Skip to the present, and Eminem is now a well-established brand whose marketing momentum is difficult to re-create with newer talent.

But even by traditional standards, Eminem is enjoying a superb run.  In its debut week, Eminem’s Recovery (Aftermath/Interscope) easily topped the album charts with sales of roughly 741,000 in the US, according to Nielsen Soundscan.  But make no mistake, this is a traditional artist who owes a lot of this recent success to huge, over-the-top, and largely traditional channels.  That includes some of the biggest – and supposedly dying – channels like the traditional tube and terrestrial radio.

Everybody loves a hit, and “Not Afraid” is a great track to hang a big marketing hat on.  According to data compiled by BigChampagne and Mediabase, “Not Afraid” has been clocking more than 4,000 weekly terrestrial broadcast spins since May 18th, a figure that is creeping upward towards 4,500 as July begins.

Markets like Detroit are predictable strongholds, as are a number of Midwestern cities like Flint, Fort Wayne, Knoxville, and Omaha.  But across the broader US, this song has been tracking in the top 100 since mid-May.  Currently, “Not Afraid” is just breaking into the top 40, the type of rotation that helps create mega-awareness and serious sales.

Of course, Eminem is also well-represented on digital channels.  Also according to BigChampagne BC Dash data, “Not Afraid” just recently cracked the top 10 on the iTunes Store, and it has also broken into the top 5 on MySpace Music multiple times this month.

But the traditional tube is helped to throw this song – and album – over-the-top.  The inspiration, recovery-inspired tone of “Not Afraid” is translating into the sports world, where everyone loves a comeback and a struggle to victory.  A number of high-profile sporting events have recently embraced this song, opening the possibility of coveted anthem status ahead.  That includes the game-heavy NBA Playoffs and the Stanley Cup Finals between the Blackhawks and Flyers.

It even pumped up crowds ahead of the welterweight boxing battle between Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley.  The moment was all-too-perfect for an artist that has endured some hits himself, however self-inflicted.  In fact, as Mosley walked to the ring, another Eminem track – “Till I Collapse” from 2002 – was playing in the background.