Weekly Register: SoundScan Discounts Jay Z Promotion; ‘The Voice’ Reigns

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 1.15.48 PMBillboard Editor Bill Werde took an easily defendable position this past week regarding a daring marketing promotion that involved artist Jay Z, and Samsung. The concept involved the artist’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail, set for release the week of July 8, 2013. Essentially, Samsung customers would download a free artist-branded app and after engaging with some content, receive the new album at no cost. Samsung agreed to pay the artist $5 for each of the million albums it plans to give away. So in effect, the artist nets $5 million and immediately “sells” one million units.

But questions quickly arose over whether this promotion would/should count for SoundScan chart totals. “Our role as the chart of record is to set the rules, and hopefully even raise the level of play,” said Werde. “It is in this spirit that I say it wasn’t as simple as you might think to turn down Jay-Z when he requested that we count the million albums that Samsung ‘bought’ as part of a much larger brand partnership, to give away to Samsung customers.”

weeklygrid6-23-13The main sticking point according to Werde was that fans weren’t actually buying anything. For example, if the album were sale priced at $3.49 (minimum new release pricing threshold) or higher, then it would definitely count. But Werde notes, “In the context of the promotion, nothing is actually for sale.”

SoundScan has always been based purely on sales, but in today’s changing environment, new paid subscription services are also creating revenue streams that in some ways resemble retail sales. Will they someday find their way onto the sales charts? “Just because the Billboard 200 has been based purely on sales of an album for the entirety of the life of the chart doesn’t mean it must always remain so,” Werde says wisely, promising to consult with industry leaders over these questions. “Rest assured,” he concludes. “Billboard will find the right balance.”

And now let’s count the Weekly Register...

hunterAlbum Shopping
Hunter Hayes fans received a special treat this week in the form of a special Encore (edition) of his first album with added material. The new Encore set includes 12 tracks from Hayes’ original self-titled release plus additional music and video material. On Amazon (June 26), Encore was priced at $11.88 CD or $12.49 MP3 album. iTunes had Encore for download at $14.99. Fans applauded the release by boosting it to the No. 1 position on the Current Country Top 75 with sales of almost 40k units. Feeling the Hayes heat, Florida Georgia Line stepped back to No. 2 this week, adding about 33k units to the duo’s impressive RTD total of 760k.

Danielle Bradbery debuted a Complete Season 4 Collection of songs she performed on The Voice. It landed at No. 6 with sales of almost 18k (100 percent digital). I have been writing about this talented 16-year-old quite a bit lately, and admittedly I am quite a fan, but her recent victory on the singing show, plus weekly single sales have been nothing short of amazing. The Swon Brothers, also Voice alums, debut with a similar season collection at No. 18 with over 6k units (100 percent digital).

And finally, LoCash Cowboys enter our list with a self-titled collection that debuts at No. 25 with almost 4.5k units.

A quick look at our weekly grids shows country’s lead fading like a pair of old denims as it frays from up 2 percent to up .9 percent. This still compares nicely against the industry overall which is down 5.3 percent. One reason for country’s slide is last year’s Kenny Chesney debut which arrived at this time (Welcome To The Fishbowl) and shifted a whopping 193k.

weeklygrid6-16-13Tracking The Hits
The Digital Genre Tracks chart this week also pays solid tribute to The Voice [again]. Ms. Bradbery debuts at No. 5 with “Born To Fly” (68k units) and gets to No. 10 (50k) with “Maybe It Was Memphis” now in its 7th week on the chart. The Swon Brothers grab No. 7 with “Danny’s Song” (63k) and No. 12 with “I Can’t Tell You Why” (44k). In all the duo has four tracks that charted in the Top 100 and Bradbery owns nine positions. These are incredible stats for such new acts.

Hunter Hayes supports his new album release with the No. 3 track (110k) this week, “I Want Crazy,” and six additional tracks. Remaining at No. 1 are Florida Georgia Line, adding a stellar 244k new downloads to an RTD now over 4.5 million. Also notable is Blake in the No. 2 spot with “Boys Round Here,” selling almost 115k downloads.

Comparing this week to last week, country track sales rose 6 percent, giving the country genre a 13.5 percent market share of overall all-genre track sales YTD.

Next week is the end of the second quarter, stay tuned…

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Journalist, entrepreneur, tech-a-phile, MusicRow magazine founder, lives in Nashville, TN. Twitter him @davidmross or read his non-music industry musings at Secrets Of The List

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