Many would think that Janet Jackson’s well-reviewed Unbreakable could sell on its own, but that’s apparently not the case. When Janet Jackson debuted at No. 1 a couple weeks back, her album sales were, according to Hits Daily Double, aided by using a special little trick.
“Janet Jackson’s chart-topper this week was aided by the 30k units that were part of a ticket bundle for her tour, which explains why the album sold so well with virtually no airplay. The veteran artist and her wealthy husband, fashion mogul Wissam Al Mana, who financed the recording and underwrote her Rhythm Nation label, had shopped the album to the majors but got nary a nibble, enabling BMG to pick it up.”
Unbreakable was supposed to drop over 80 percent in sales last week, but only dropped 74 percent. This happened as concertgoers for Janet Jackson’s San Francisco show reported being given a free Unbreakable album with the purchase of every concert souvenir, which included t-shirts and concert books. It was also reported that albums were also given away with souvenirs in Los Angeles and San Diego, which explains why Unbreakable only dropped 3 percent in sales this week, despite sharply falling down the charts on iTunes (No. 62) and Amazon. (No. 31).
Music chart watchers have been enraged about this on Twitter and the silence from the media regarding this issue. However, veteran music industry site Showbiz 411 finally broke the silence.
“This week Janet Jackson’s ‘Unbreakable’ album only dropped 3% since last week and sold 18,888 copies according to hitsdailydouble…It’s great that sales stabilized, but what happened? It turns out Janet has been selling physical CDs, vinyl, and digital downloads as part of a package with T shirts and merchandise.”
Showbiz 411 notes that in one deal, for either $29.99 or $39.99, you get a T-shirt plus three or four different kinds of recordings, all have which counted towards sales. However, many actual concert goers have reported that they have bought a t-shirt or other item for cheaper and still given the CD. In other words, one couldn’t get the T-shirt without the CD; it was automatically included. This has angered many on Twitter.
@HITSDD Janet Jackson is cheating. Giving away free album with EVERY tshirt sale. and calling it bundling.— Ted Lopez (@TedLopez39) October 18, 2015
Janet Jackson isn’t the first artist to use such a trick to inflate album sales. In 2012, Madonna bundled albums with tickets (although the buyer had to actually download the album for sales to count) with her album MDNA in 2012 and was heavily criticized for doing so. In 2005, Prince actually gave every ticket buyer an album, which counted for Billboard‘s charts. However, since Prince’s trick, Billboard has not allowed free albums to chart. It is believed that Janet Jackson has somehow been able to override the rules by reporting the the “bundled” albums as actual sales (since people had to pay for the t-shirts and other goodies).
While some long-time chart watchers may be angry with Janet’s sneaky trick, others may consider her smart. Let’s face it: album sales are down for everybody these days. Janet Jackson is just doing the best she could by trying to spread her music to as many people as possible. However, perhaps the albums that are given away with T-shirts shouldn’t count for the charts. What do you think of the Janet Jackson controversy? Let us know in the comments section.
[Feature photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images]