Why John Mayer Is the Next Artist to Get Screwed by Billboard

Will Billboard Count John Mayer's Promotional Album Sales?
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Will Billboard Count John Mayer's Promotional Album Sales?
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Image by wdecora (CC by 2.0)

John Mayer had a genius idea: bundled CDs with concert tickets.  But those CDs probably won’t count towards the Billboard 200.

So far, John Mayer has enjoyed a solid 2017.  On January 3rd, Mayer announced a surprise performance at The Hotel Café.  He played before the sold-out crowd in the 165 capacity room.

Mayer also hit a sales high with his new mini-album, The Search for Everything: Wave One.

Last November, Mayer announced on his Facebook page that he would release four new songs from his album once a month.  The singer explained that there are just “too many songs to ever get out the door at once.”


The endeavor appears to have worked.  Wave One debuted at No. 1 on Top Album Sales.  He sold 38,000 copies.  Yet, on the Billboard 200, it ranked behind The Weeknd’s “Starboy,” thanks in part to The Weeknd’s immense streaming popularity.

Wave One reached 49,000 equivalent album units.  All sales were downloads, as the mini-album was sold exclusively through digital retailers.

Now, John Mayer is about to face another problem.  An anonymous DMN reader sent us an e-mail.  After purchasing tickets for John Mayer’s “Search for Everything” World Tour, he received an unexpected gift. Ticketmaster sent him the following message.

“Thank you for purchasing tickets to see John Mayer!

Your ticket to see John Mayer live in concert comes with a CD of his forthcoming album The Search For Everything.

Please provide us with your physical mailing address to ensure you are among the first to receive the album when it becomes available.

What are you waiting for? Get your copy of John Mayer’s brand new CD now!”

The e-mail doesn’t specify if the album includes all upcoming songs, or just Wave One.  Yet, the CDs probably won’t be counted in Billboard’s tally.

Last year, Frank Ocean faced an issue with Billboard over his visual album Endless.  Billboard’s 200 chart ranks the most popular albums based on “mullti-metric consumption.”  This consists of traditional album sales, track equivalent albums, and streaming equivalent albums. As Ocean’s visual album was only sold as a full 45-minute project, Billboard asked,

“Does one stream of a 45-minute visual album equate to one album unit?”

Unlike Endless, consumers can purchase Wave One tracks individually.  However, with promotional ticket tie-ins, and the singer’s popularity, Billboard probably won’t count these promotional CDs as sales.

Sorry, Johnny.

6 Responses

  1. danwriter

    “…Billboard probably won’t count these promotional CDs as sales.”

    Probably? A quick email to Gary Trust, Billboard’s associate editor of charts, would likey make this an actual news article.

  2. J Scavo

    Am I missing something? Isn’t this a standard ticket bundle? I’ve done more ticket bundles inc. albums (both physical and digital) than I can remember. If you do them right, they all count towards Soundscan. There are clear rules you have to follow but they can absolutely count. This is a great way for established artists with real fan bases to better compete on the chart and get new music into the hands of what-could-be a more passive fan base. Loads of bands do these bundles. Sorry if I’m missing a nuance of this one in particular.

    • Brian F

      Scavo knows what he is talking about. These absolutely will count towards first week sales numbers. See recent Bon Jovi release.

  3. JJ

    J Scavo is correct. I too have run these campaigns, successfully, multiple times. There is a formula that you must adhere to regarding the price of an album and the ticket on the accounting side. If done properly, these sales will most definitely count towards SS/Billboard.

  4. Paul Lanning

    Not a new idea at all. In 1967, Murray the K gave free Mitch Ryder albums to the audience at his big Easter show.