R. Kelly is facing decades in prison for kidnapping and sexually exploiting children, but the singer’s career somehow still seems to be on the up and up.
In the week after a jury found Kelly guilty on all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking charges against him, his album sales spiked by a whopping 517 percent and his audio streams jumped 22 percent, Rolling Stone reports.
In fact, R. Kelly’s sales have been trending steadily upwards ever since the allegations of physical, emotional and sexual violence have started to pile up against him. His streams spiked considerably in the wake of the first season of Surviving R. Kelly in 2019, in which women gave detailed, harrowing accounts his abuse, and then again after the explosive interview with Gayle King a few months later, in which he leapt out of his chair and screamed at her.
Rolling Stone reports that in 2017, R. Kelly was averaging around 5.4 million streams per week—and this year he’s averaged roughly 6.4 million, despite the fact that Apple Music and Spotify attempted to “mute” him by pulling his songs from their curated playlists.
While it may seem horrifying that Kelly is being rewarded in any way for decades of heinous behavior, it’s also not very unusual. Jezebel examined the streaming trends of “canceled” artists in 2019 and found that musicians often tend to benefit from these kinds of scandals. “News coverage puts artists in front of people,” Rich Juzwiak writes, “stoking curiosity or reminding them of old favs, irrespective of the tone and content of such coverage.”
In other words, all press is good press when you’re already rich and famous. At least (hopefully) Kelly will only be able to enjoy his piles and piles of money from the inside of a jail cell.