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OMI single sales top 8m units after making Sony playlist

Published:Friday | April 15, 2016 | 4:00 AMSteven Jackson

Jamaican artiste OMI sold more than 8.3 million digital units of his hit single Cheerleader, which previously received minimal play in Jamaica then globally exploded in 2015, due in part to Sony Music's belief in the song.

The single became the ninth most downloaded digital song of 2015, according to the Global Music Report 2016 released on Tuesday by music umbrella body, IFPI.

The earning from the downloads, which remains only one of the song's revenue streams, would surpass US$8 million or just under $1 billion, based on the average cost of US$0.99 per download, according to Financial Gleaner estimates. IFPI did not disclose the dollar value but explained that unit sales include single-track downloads and track-equivalent streams.

OMI's single became a hit after being featured on streaming playlists in Sweden, the report explained.

"The Sony team believed in the song and when they featured the track on one of the big Sony playlists, they saw a remarkably high level of individual listener adds to personal playlists, something the company could identify and track through their analytics team," according to Ole Obermann, executive vice-president of digital partner development at Sony Music, in comments within the IFPI report.

"The result was a big hit in Sweden as the track went to number one on the charts. The playlisting strategy was then rolled out throughout the rest of Europe and, eventually, the US."

Obermann added that the "reggae-flavoured" track did not initially attract interest from radio in Sweden until Sony featured it.

The song eventually led the Billboard charts in the United States for a number of weeks, but also cumulatively notched up more than 90 million streams from online site Spotify, while topping iTunes charts in 14 territories, including Germany, Australia, Sweden and others. Originally released in 2012, the song underwent a remix by German DJ-producer Felix Jaehn in 2014, which aided its global rise in 2015.

"We use playlist data to determine which tracks we should chase from a marketing perspective and we can tailor our approach based on the data that comes back from our streaming partners. It makes us much more effective marketers," said Obermann in the report.

OMI - born Omar Samuel Pasley - is from Clarendon. His team includes Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon of Oufah Media and Production.

IFPI indicated that global music sales increased for the first time in two decades, earning US$15 billion in revenues or 3.2 per cent more last year. It's also the first year that digital sales eclipsed physical record/CD sales.

"Today, we are at a crucial moment in the evolution of recorded music. After two decades of almost uninterrupted decline, 2015 witnessed key milestones for recorded music: measurable revenue growth globally; consumption of music exploding everywhere; and digital revenues overtaking income from physical formats for the first time," said Frances Moore, chief executive officer of IFPI, in the summary of the report.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com