Billboard won’t count Jay-Z sales to Samsung on its chart

Jay-Z's deal with Samsung won't count on the Billboard 200 chart for album sales.
Jay-Z’s deal with Samsung won’t count on the Billboard 200 chart for album sales.
(Evan Agostini / Invision/AP)

Jay-Z may have sold a million copies of his upcoming album to Samsung, but those sales won’t count on the influential Billboard 200 chart, which ranks album sales, the magazine said.

Bill Werde, Billboard’s editorial director, said in a letter posted Friday that Jay-Z had approached the chart giant to include the Samsung deal in its sales ranking, but Billboard declined, because it only counts sales of albums when people actually buy them.

“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,” Werde said. “But in the context of this promotion, nothing is actually for sale.”


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Werde explained that the chart’s threshold for a sale is $3.49, and if Samsung were to sell the album at that price to customers, then it would count. But giving away for free is not a sale.

Best Buy in 2008 paid upfront for 600,000 copies of Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy,” and Billboard did not count those either, Werde said.

Said Jay-Z on Twitter, “If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesnt report it, did it happen? Ha.”

Samsung paid $5 for each copy of the album, according to Billboard and the Wall Street Journal, meaning it spent $5 million. The free app will launch on June 24 and the album will be available to Galaxy users July 4 at 12:01 a.m.

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Jay-Z announced the offer in an ad during a game of the NBA finals, giving the rapper a huge publicity boost. The rapper said June 16 that the company will give away copies of the album, dubbed “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” to Galaxy smartphone owners through an app three days before its for-sale release.

In addition to explaining how Billboard would view Jay-Z’s Samsung deal, the magazine also said it has made changes to its Hot 100 chart to count Internet plays and introduced its Social 50 artist chart to measure artist popularity on social media sites.

Werde said Billboard will consider changes to its album chart, which could mean tweaks in order to count streams.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll talk through highly nuanced questions about our album charts with top managers, retailers, brands, publishers, label executives and others, just as we have with recent chart changes,” he said. “These discussions may well lead to some changes to our charting rules -- or they may not.”


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