Billboard’s ‘Official’ Magna Carta Sales: 527,000…

Jay-Z won’t be entering the history books on his latest album, but then again, that depends on which history book you’re reading.  And despite being denied credit for selling one million copies to Samsung, Jay-Z is still scoring a number one album forMagna Carta… Holy Grail.

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According to the ‘official’ tally confirmed by Billboard and Nielsen Soundscan on Tuesday, Magna Carta achieved sales of ‘just’527,000 units, based on more traditional sales of downloads and CDs.  That includes everything from Amazon to iTunes to Walmart, but not app albums purchased by Samsung and distributed to fans.

Which means, here’s what the Billboard’s history book won’t be showing:

If all 1,527,000 copies had been counted, Magna Carta would have easily been the best-selling, first-week album this year, easily beating Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience (968,000 first-week copies).  Instead, Magna Carta is the second best-selling (with Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories now the third).

If all 1,527,000 copies had been counted, Magna Carta would have a pretty good chance of being the best-selling album of 2013.  Currently, The 20/20 Experience is in the lead with more than two million sold this year.

If all 1,527,000 copies had been counted, Magna Carta would have been one of the top five best-selling first-week albums of all time, beaten only by these albums (also counted by Soundscan):

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Instead, Magna Carta will not be counted in this elite ranking.

And, if all 1,527,000 copies had been counted, Magna Carta would easily have the best first-week sales result of the past 10 years, easily beating recent first-weeks by Taylor Swift (Red, 1.2 million) and Lady Gaga (Born This Way, 1.1 million).
Separately, Magna Carta has been confirmed as having the most first-week streams ever on Spotify, with 14 million.  The album also set a release day streaming record (and yes, Spotify is counting them all).

3 Responses

  1. Henry Chatfield

    I appreciate your thoughts on this Paul, but the whole thing is kind of antiquated. The most records sold with N’Sync and Eminem represent a very different era than right now with Jay Z and MCHG. In many ways, ‘first week sales’ was the best way to gauge popularity and interest, but now we have more data, so why keeping using an outdated system?
    It almost doesn’t matter how many albums he sold first week, and a much more interesting metric is how many people actually listened. And for that reason, I am going to be paying a lot less attention on sources like Billboard and a whole lot more attention to streaming services like Spotify.

  2. William

    Samsung paid Jay-Z 5 million dollars for 1 millions albums. Then gives then away for free! I don’t see how this really counts as actual sales. I’m glad billboard is not counting them. It’s like if in the old days, if warner music hired someone to go to tower records and buy 1 million records off the shelf and chock up the expense as “marketing cost”.

  3. Jay Harley

    It’s absurd that Billboard would not count the 1 million records bought by Samsung. It is a new age of technology available for consumers. these old statistics need to be revised. They key is that THERE WAS SOMETHING FOR SALE. If I sell a pair of shoes for $200 and the person decides to give them away for free that has nothing to do with me. Companies are always screaming “be innovative” but when you are they reject you.