There was a very tight-run race on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US last week – and, as might have been predicted, there’s been some headline-grabbing fallout.
Nicki Minaj’s Queen, released on August 10 via Young Money/Cash Money, fought Travis Scott’s Astroworld (Cactus Jack/Epic) in its second week on the chart, for the No.1 spot.
In the end, Astroworld took the crown – recording 205,000 equivalent US sales versus Queen’s 185,000.
The two albums were neck and neck on traditional album sales with 78k each, while Astroworld had a lead of 28,000 on streaming equivalent album units with 125,000 versus Queen’s 97,000.
Both parties found tricks up their sleeve last week with which to boost sales: Minaj launched a bundle deal on her own site (see inset) which allowed fans to download her album for just $5, complete with a free Queen poster and a three-month trial to TIDAL.
Scott, meanwhile, bundled his album in with (a) merchandise and (b) pre-sale ticket access to his upcoming Astroworld tour – a tour which, to Minaj’s fury, has yet to be officially announced.
Further infuriating Minaj: Scott’s girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, encouraged her 113m Instagram followers to check out Scott’s merch/ticket store just as the album sales race was hotting up.
“Billboard says they’ll change the rules cuz of this, so it should be changed now!”
A livid Minaj tweeted yesterday (August 20): “Travis sold over 50K of these [merch/tour bundles]. With no requirement of redeeming the album! With no dates for a tour, etc. I spoke to him. He knows he doesn’t have the #1 album this week. I love my fans for the #1 album in AMERICA!”
Yep: that’s Nicki Minaj claiming she had the real No.1 album in America, despite officially having the No.2 album in America.
She added: “Travis sold 200K in his first week of clothes alone. I spoke to him last night & he said he’s been selling clothes b4 the music. Billboard says they’ll change the rules cuz of this, so it should be changed now!”
Minaj didn’t stop there: another target of the rapper’s was Spotify – and she was even more stinging in her rebuke for Daniel Ek’s company than she was for Scott’s team.
Minjaj exclusively premiered Queen on her Apple/Beats 1 radio show minutes before it landed on other streaming services.
She claims that Spotify punished her for this decision by freezing promotion of her record.
Minaj tweeted: “Spotify put drake’s face on every playlist but told me they’d have to teach me a lesson for playing my music 10 mins early on #QueenRadio. Even tho they’ve been giving away my music for free for years & I am one of the top Spotify artists of all time.”
“Spotify put drake’s face on every playlist but told me they’d have to teach me a lesson for playing my music 10 mins early on #QueenRadio… Even tho they’ve been giving away my music for free for years & I am one of the top Spotify artists of all time.”
She continued: “Spotify had to teach me a lesson but rewarded the man who has had an Apple radio show the longest [Drake]; inadvertently helping the Apple platform the most… [Spotify] took away my promotion they had promised for the 1st cpl days b/c of this.” [Explainers in square brackets are MBW’s.]
Minaj further claimed that her label, Cash Money/Republic, didn’t want to defend her against Spotify for fears of the platform punishing fellow Republic artist Ariana Grande as a result.
“My label didn’t want to defend me for fear of Spotify trying to teach Ariana a ‘lesson’ too!” she tweeted.Music Business Worldwide