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Billboard Editor comments on Jay-Z chart ineligibility

By | Published on Monday 24 June 2013


Billboard Editor Bill Werde has commented on the fact that the million copies of Jay-Z’s new album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’, being given away to Samsung customers ahead of its official release next month will not be eligible for the Billboard Chart. Jay-Z and his team have been arguging that they sold all those copies of the album to Samsung, so therefore that should mean that the record is immediately awarded platinum status and sent to the top of the album chart.

Insisting that “Billboard wants to encourage innovation”, and pointing to recent changes to his charts and the launch of new charts looking at social media impact, amongst other things, Werde said that the problem with the Samsung partnership is that – unlike similar deals artists have done with brands or retailers in the past – nothing was being sold to the consumer here.

He wrote: “Our role as the chart of record is to set the rules, and hopefully even raise the level of play. It is in this spirit that I say it wasn’t as simple as you might think to turn down Jay-Z when he requested that we count the million albums that Samsung ‘bought’ as part of a much larger brand partnership, to give away to Samsung customers. Retailers doing one-way deals is a fact of life in the music business. When Best Buy committed to and paid upfront for 600,000 copies of Guns N Roses’ ‘Chinese Democracy’ in 2008, those albums didn’t count as sales – not until music fans actually bought them”.

He continued: “Had Jay-Z and Samsung charged $3.49 – our minimum pricing threshold for a new release to count on our charts – for either the app or the album, the US sales would have registered. And ultimately, that’s the rub: The ever-visionary Jay-Z pulled the nifty coup of getting paid as if he had a platinum album before one fan bought a single copy. But in the context of this promotion, nothing is actually for sale”.

Indeed, there’s no guarantee that one million Jay-Z fans will download all those albums, sold or not. However, it is expected that once the record goes on sale properly, it will still score the rapper his thirteenth number one, so he shouldn’t worry too much.

Read Werde’s article in full here.