Billboard Still Refusing to Count 85% of Rihanna’s ‘Anti’ Sales

Billboard now says Rihanna’s ‘ANTI’ has sold roughly 175,000 copies in its second week, on top of a laughably-undercounted 460 during the week prior.  The number comes despite confirmed sales of at least 1.2 million albums, plus a Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The huge disparity continues to spotlight extreme splits within the music industry, with continued disagreements over how to incorporate streaming and non-traditional sales into modern-day rankings.  Rihanna, one of the industry’s brightest spots this decade, has been caught in the middle.

In a morning report published by Billboard writer Keith Caulfield, the publication sourced the 175,000 figure to ‘industry forecasters,’ which is code for album-counting authority Nielsen.  Just last week, Nielsen counted ‘fewer than 1,000‘ album sales during the album’s debut week, while an industry source to the New York Times read the number ‘460’ from a Nielsen Soundscan report.

Meanwhile, TIDAL offered a figure of 484,833 album downloads, a number that has undoubtedly ramped up since first disclosed last Friday.  Those aren’t ‘permanent downloads,’ so they probably don’t count.  Perhaps more confusingly, Billboard (and Nielsen) continue to refuse a million-album purchase by Samsung, part of a first-week exclusive designed to spark smartphone sales.

All of which means that Billboard and its official data source, Nielsen, are counting fewer than 15 percent of actual album sales after two weeks.

Jay Z, who similarly sold one million copies of ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ to Samsung but was refused chart recognition, has called Billboard ‘irrelevant’ and ‘threatened’.

Meanwhile, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) maintains it Platinum certification of the album, which designates album sales (or ‘album sales equivalents’) of more than one million copies in the US.  In fact, that certification could be careening towards Double Platinum, as data from mega-outlets like iTunes, Amazon, physical retailers, and streaming platforms like Spotify remain unknown.

As part of its new counting methodology, the RIAA now factors streaming in its Platinum and Gold certifications.  Specifically, 1,500 streams equal one album.  Billboard, and Nielsen, offer their own counting alchemy with ‘multi-metric consumption,’ a formula that combines ‘traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA)’.

Despite the extremely low count, ANTI is still slated to hit #1 on the Billboard charts, up from #27 in its debut week.

10 Responses

    • Paul Resnikoff

      That actually has nothing to do with it. Even if this was an album of burping noises, the issues relate to how it’s being counted, certified, and recognized from a sales perspective.

  1. Chris Bigham

    Billboard doesn’t count albums given away for free.

    That 1 million with the RIAA has nothing to do with the Billboard charts.

    Jay Z did the same thing with his album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail.”

    This is not scandalous. Just messy. Jay Z handled it better when it was HIS album.

    • Literally Can't Even

      Billboard doesn’t count albums given away for free.

      They weren’t free. You see, Samsung *bought* them.

      • Anonymous

        They were free. Purchases in bulk that are used for promotional purposes are considered free/discounted and not counted.

  2. Gaetano

    Glad Billboard is sticking to its guns on this. RIAA is bullshit and everyone knows it. The numbers inflation game is getting outta control and someone’s gotta put a stop to it.

  3. Paul Lanning

    Billboard is right. Tonnage dumped into a non-music company to support a promotion isn’t sales at all, it’s maneuvering that actually obscures what the real sales might be.

    • Sam Fuller

      Real sales? So Rihanna’s camp getting paid millions for rights to 1MM albums is not a sale? If you’re correct then only in the music industry can cash exchanging hands for a product not be considered a sale.

      I guess if a non-music company stole the music, it wouldn’t be theft. Is that how it works?

  4. Paul Lanning

    It’s not real sales because it doesn’t reflect actual demand.

  5. Paul Lanning

    AND Samsung, a hard goods mfr and erstwhile concert promoter, bought the albums to GIVE AWAY FOR FREE.