Hey! This update focuses on why NF beat Chance the Rapper for the #1 album on the Billboard charts. The rundown covers Uninterrupted’s expansion in Canada, the impact of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” lawsuits, and A$AP Rocky’s politicized freedom.
Looks like the real ‘Big Day’ went to Michigan rapper NF who beat out Chance the Rapper for the #1 album in the country. The Search sold 130,000 units, compared to just 108,000 for the Chicago rapper’s “debut album.” It was a bit of a surprise since Chance was expected to take the #1 spot.
The Search starts with a larger-than-forecast number, as some industry prognosticators thought the album would bow with around 95,000 units. The Search benefited from sturdy sales sold through traditional means like the iTunes Store, a range of merchandise/album bundles sold via NF’s official webstore — including a few late-in-the-week new offers of signed merch bundled with an album — and a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer….
Like NF’s The Search, Chance’s The Big Day was supported by an array of merchandise/album bundles Chance sold via his official website. In addition, Chance offered an album bundled with an access code to the pre-sale for his upcoming concert tour.
The bundles surely helped, but the real reason NF beat Chance is deeper.
NF relied on pure album sales. 65% of his sales came from concert ticket bundles, merch bundles, or standalone album sales. The rest came from streaming. For Chance, it was flipped. 75% came directly from streaming.
It echoes last month’s Trapital article White Rappers and Black Rappers Have Different Business Models. Chance, despite his widespread acceptance by mainstream culture, doesn’t have the fanbase and access to distribution channels that a white rapper like NF does. Even though Chance’s album was streamed nearly twice as much, those streams mean little when it takes 1,250 streams (or more) to equal an album sale.
The Billboard 200 is the Electoral College of music. Billboard’s archaic desire to preserve albums sales means that gaining support from a select subset of the population is more important than marketing to the masses.
Chance has 18 times as many Twitter followers, 7x as many Instagram followers, and performs in concert venues that are 12x the size of NF. But none of that matters for the weekly chart.
It’s hard to feel bad for Chance though. NF announced his album release date back in May. Chance announced his date a couple of weeks ago. He knew who was dropping which week, knew he wanted the #1 spot, and still chose to go head-to-head with NF. There’s a game to be played. Chance was bullish, but came up short.
NF still deserves his recognition though. To his credit, his last album, Perception sold over 50,000 units. And that was well before his hit single “Let You Down” blew up and dominated pop radio. Momentum was building. NF capitalized on his opportunity and rightfully earned the #1 spot this week.
Drake and LeBron James at Uninterrupted Canada’s Press Conference (CBC News)
Uninterrupted Canada officially kicked off. Initial projects include a feature on the clothing line from Toronto Raptor Serge Ibaka and motivational content from former Toronto Blue Jay Marcus Stroman.
This media company is a cornerstone of the player empowerment era. Critics often chide the dangers of players controlling their narratives. It’s an understandable concern, but the owner-driven, mainstream media of old has left much to be inferred and assumed about the players themselves. Uninterrupted, The Player’s Tribune, and similar outlets create a check and balance that was nonexistent for the last generation of athletes.
Who Wrote ‘Stairway to Heaven’? Music Industry Braces for Copyright Suits (Wall Street Journal)
Federal judges in Los Angeles ruled against Katy Perry, ordering her to pay Christian rapper Flame $2.8 million in damages. Perry’s “Dark Horse” apparently sounds too much like this 2009 song “Joyful Noise.” (if you haven’t listened, click those links and check for yourself).
This ridiculous ruling has music attorneys frustrated about future lawsuits. Based on this ruling, songs that share similar musical elements to massive hits can easily be sued for copyright infringement. “There are only 12 notes you can work with, and so things are going to sound alike without technically infringing,” said Mr. McPherson, the music attorney. “The stifling of creativity we predicted after ‘Blurred Lines’ is happening, and after this Katy Perry case it’s going to happen more.”
Agreed. Several examples have come up in recent year’s, like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Hopefully these lawsuits don’t start a trend, but it seems like that’s where it’s heading.
A$AP Rocky’s Politicized Freedom (New York Times)
First and foremost, A$AP Rocky is back home! He thanked everyone for their support and got a chance to enjoy himself yesterday at Kanye West’s Sunday Service.
But the U.S. Government threatened Sweden with “negative consequences” if Rocky remained detained in prison. Rocky’s freedom has been warped into a proof point of the White House’s support for the black community. There’s an inevitable expectation that this incident will be tokenized to sway influence and gain approval elsewhere. Yes, Rocky’s a member of the black community, but the treatment of a celebrity is far different than policies that shape the lives of millions of everyday Americans.