Analysis: ‘Straight Outta Compton’ boosts sales of Dr. Dre’s new album

Dr. Dre, left, and Ice Cube, original members of the hip-hop group N.W.A, salute the crowd at CinemaCon 2015 in Las Vegas in April.

Dr. Dre, left, and Ice Cube, original members of the hip-hop group N.W.A, salute the crowd at CinemaCon 2015 in Las Vegas in April.

(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

What rhymes with “synergy?”

Sales of music by Dr. Dre and the rest of the N.W.A clan received a clear boost from the buzz surrounding “Straight Outta Compton,” the new movie about the renowned rap group.

Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, released his first album in 16 years just days before “Straight Outta Compton” debuted at the box office and obliterated industry expectations with its $60.2-million opening weekend.

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The Dre release, dubbed “Compton,” is not the movie’s soundtrack nor is it an official tie-in. Still, the nearly parallel unveiling helped the record move a robust 295,000 units in the United States in its first week, according to Nielsen Music. It easily topped the R&B/hip-hop chart for the week, and it came in at No. 2 in overall album sales, behind country star Luke Bryan’s “Kill the Lights.”

Other N.W.A-related recordings got sales bumps as well. The group’s 1988 release “Straight Outta Compton” sold nearly 8,500 copies in the week that ended Aug. 13, more than double the prior week. It landed 30th on the overall album chart, surging from 83rd in the week before.

“Ever since anyone’s been talking about the movie, people have been going back and rediscovering [the music] and consuming it in a lot of different ways,” Nielsen analyst David Bakula said. “You’re probably going to notice it even more this week as people see the movie.”

There was also an effect on past albums. Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” and “2001” soared 95% and 86% respectively during the week. Best-of compilations from N.W.A and Ice Cube also earned noticeable increases.

FULL COVERAGE: ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and N.W.A’s legacy

Bakula said the sales were similar to past biopics. Movies like “Ray” (about Ray Charles) and “Walk the Line” (about Johnny Cash) renewed interest in their subjects’ old recordings.


In terms of streams, tracks from the N.W.A catalog were up more than 100% in the last week, according to the Swedish service Spotify.

Plenty of people also streamed Dre’s “Compton,” though they could do so only through Apple Music and not rivals such as Spotify or Rhapsody. Nielsen reported that the album generated 11 million streams throughout the week in the U.S.

Dre has been heavily promoting the album and the movie, which he produced, on his radio show “The Pharmacy,” which airs on Apple’s new global radio station Beats 1.

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“Finally the butterflies are gone,” Dre said on his most recent “Pharmacy” episode. “It’s so crazy when you’re waiting for something this massive to come out. I think I was much more nervous about the album coming out than I was the movie, because the album is so much more personal.”

The album is available only through iTunes and Apple Music for the first two weeks of release.


The new streaming service, which debuted to much fanfare in late June, has 11 million users around the world and wants to build on that number as members’ free trials expire and they have to start paying $9.99 a month. Apple hopes that exclusive windows on new releases will encourage music fans to adopt the service.

Apple Music is based on the Beats streaming service Dre and fellow mogul Jimmy Iovine sold to the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant last year, along with their headphone business, for $3 billion.

Follow @rfaughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage.


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Highlights of The Times’ early coverage of N.W.A