Worldwide superstar Rihanna released her eighth studio album last week and according to Nielsen has sold 460 albums or more than a million if you ask RIAA.
Despite Nielsen only counting 460 album sales Rihanna’s new album has already gone platinum and ranked no. 27 for the weeks Billboard charts. You’ll get a different result depending on which source you use, because the lines for sales in the music industry have become incredibly blurred.
That’s not to say the industry is dwindling, as music consumption is at a steadily increasing high, rather that the formats aren’t straightforward anymore. For example under RIAA’s new rules to certify an album platinum it must reach 1 million album sales, or 1.5 billion streams, or a combination of the both. But wait, there’s more: Thanks to the ability to stream or download individual songs now, an accumulation of the songs in an album reaching those marks can also count.
So how does RIAA count over a million album sales (or equivalent) whilst Nielsen count 460? Well apparently Nielsen were only including physical album sales in the US and yes, 460 was confirmed in the New York Times to be the actual number of Rihanna’s physical album sales. It may be a testament to the power of digital downloads and streaming that despite that number, ANTI still went platinum – or it might be that Samsung pre-purchased 1 million copies of the album for an exclusive promotion. You see, nothing is simple in the music industry.
As sales from one party to another they count towards it’s ranking and therefore probably explain it’s platinum ranking. For whatever reason however these statistics too were ignored by Nielsens gathering of data on the album.
Meanwhile, beyond all of the ranking confusion as these insight companies come to terms with the constantly evolving industry, Rihanna’s ANTI is showing success. Physical sales may be at an all time low for the singer but Tidal, Jay Z’s music streaming service, announced that they had reached sales of 484,833 album downloads. Tidal are also claiming roughly 5.6 million streams of the entire album in it’s first week.