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Jay-Z’s recently announced partnership with Samsung has already netted the artist 1 million albums sold for his upcoming Magna Carta Holy Grail, but that number won’t count toward his Billboard 200 ranking, Billboard editorial director Bill Werde announced Friday.
Under Jay-Z’s deal with Samsung, 1 million Samsung users will be able to download his album for free July 4 – simply by using a special app. Samsung paid $5 each for the million albums, and Jay-Z’s camp had lobbied for those sales to be counted toward his Billboard 200 ranking.
In a letter Friday, Werde praised Jay-Z’s innovative partnership with Samsung, but said the move did not fit with Billboard’s ranking system, because Samsung — not consumers — will be paying for the album.
“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 U.S. sales would have registered,” Werde said. “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.”
Werde added that’s not to say such a partnership will forever be considered ineligible for Billboard’s ranking.
“Today I pay to listen to most of my albums on a subscription streaming service. Should those count in some way on our albums chart?” he asked. “And what about a world that Jay would argue is already here — one in which not enough fans are willing to pay for music that they want to listen to. Should artists be forced to choose between landing a big brand deal or landing a higher placement on the Billboard charts? The answer to that cannot and should not be yes.”
Werde said in the coming weeks, he and Billboard will discuss these questions with retailers, music managers, publishers, brands and other industry leaders. And should the rules change, the industry will receive “advance warning so the game stays fair.”
It may not be the news Jay-Z wanted, but the music mogul will be able to take some comfort. Werde predicted the new album will debut at No. 1, with industry insiders projecting it will sell 400,000 to 450,000 copies in its first week.
Watch the video in which Jay-Z announced his album below.
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