Social media buzz the new barometer of a hit

January 19, 2015 3:51 PM

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Last week, while the world was otherwise occupied, an unsigned Brooklyn R&B band called Phony Ppl with a scant 6,800 Twitter followers released an album called "Yesterday's Tomorrow." The album was two years in the making, and its 15 songs connect the varied sounds of rhythm and blues and hip-hop that cross decades and genres.

The record was delivered digitally, without a companion CD or LP, into an uncentered pop marketplace whose attentions change by the second based on tweets, shares, feeds, real-time charts and Facebook likes, competing with the hundreds (thousands? millions?) of other recordings released on your aver...

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