Marketing Letters

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 143–157 | Cite as

Death-related publicity as informational advertising: evidence from the music industry



The sales of books, DVDs, and music albums frequently increase substantially after the death of an artist. Yet, the mechanism behind this stylized fact remains unclear. In this paper, we examine whether after-death sales increases reflect primarily an affective reaction of existing customers or informative advertising for previously uninformed new customers. In our main study, we use weekly sales data for 446 music albums of 77 artists who died between 1992 and 2010. We show that album sales increase on average by 54.1 % after death and that the relative increase in sales is higher for the artist’s better albums. This suggests that death-related publicity serves primarily as informational advertising that attracts new customers who buy the artist’s best albums after death. Complementary evidence from a survey study with more than 2,000 participants confirms this interpretation and shows that information-based motives are relatively more important for after-death consumption than affect-based motives.


Death-related effects Advertising Context effect Publicity Cultural markets 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Warwick Business SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.School of Business and EconomicsUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany
  3. 3.Department of Business AdministrationUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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