Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Online, Eva Cassidy Trumps Elvis

New York Times
July 24, 2005

Online, Eva Cassidy Trumps Elvis

When released its Musicians Hall of Fame this month, ranking the Top 25-selling CD's in the site's 10-year history, a few of the results might have been surprising - Enya at No. 8? - but all the names on the list were recognizable stars. Except one: No. 5, Eva Cassidy.

Cassidy was an angelic-voiced but little-known singer whose death from cancer at 33, in 1996, inspired a phenomenal demand for her renditions of songbook standards, jazz and gospel, leading to six posthumous albums culled from unreleased recordings. She's not necessarily out of place on Amazon's list, which skews wildly toward white pop-rock (the only solo black artist is Ray Charles at No. 23) and hardly reflects album sales beyond Amazon. But ahead of Bob Dylan (No. 9), Bruce Springsteen (No. 12) and Elvis (No. 25)?

The explanation probably lies in the rise of the Internet as a tastemaker, and the explosive growth of online commerce that Amazon itself pioneered. The independent Blix Street label began releasing Cassidy's recordings in 1998, the year Amazon added music to its inventory. A word-of-mouth campaign, fueled by chat rooms and fan sites, began to seep into the news media, and by December 2000 two Cassidy albums had pushed a top-selling Beatles compilation down to No. 3 at Amazon, with three other Cassidy albums at Nos. 4, 5 and 7. Just how many CD's she has sold on Amazon to reach No. 5 is unknown; the company does not release sales information other than comparative rankings. But thanks to Amazon consumers, Eva Cassidy is enjoying an unlikely, and lucrative, sort of immortality.


My Eva blog: Eva Cassidy: Legendary Singer