Rihanna’s album ANTI is so hot that it has already sold over a million copies. At least that’s what Rihanna would like you to believe, according to Idolator.
“RIAA triggered a social media furor earlier today (January 29) when they announced that Rihanna’s ANTI had been certified platinum for selling one million copies. The superstar was quick to jump on the news, tweeting heartfelt thanks to her fans.”
As Idolator notes, there is just one little problem here. Rihanna’s fans didn’t buy the album. They didn’t buy one single copy. Instead, they were snapped up by Samsung as part of their $25 million sponsorship deal and given away for free on Tidal. Rihanna soon found herself being accused of cheating.
“I’m all for innovative album rollouts and out-of-the-box marketing, but this situation makes a mockery of artists trying to sell albums to actual consumers,” Mike Wass of Idolator writes.
The comments after the article were mostly against Rihanna.
“It makes the certification null and void. It makes all certifications… a joke. There’s no accomplishment here. In addition, the album is all over the place. No cohesive symmetry at all,” comments “buzzboy.”
“I love the album but RiRI should have earned her platinum status the proper way. There is no valour in buying your certification,” answers EmilySanquis.
Twitter has largely been accusing Rihanna of pulling a fast one as well.
Rihanna offering 1 million copies to her fans, desperate much? I'm sorry but that is called "cheating" ;) try again— .apollo (@ValentinSGS) January 31, 2016
People are actually congratulating Rihanna for cheating her way to a Platinum record. Ok— Garri Horan (@8bitHiro) January 30, 2016
All of this brings back memories of the botched release of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way in 2011. After the initial response to the album wasn’t as positive as expected, Gaga’s management aligned with a promotion for the album, which would sell for just 99 cents. Lady Gaga’s album sold over a million copies the first week of release, but many questioned the validity of the sales.
As Idolator noted in November of 2011, the backlash from Gaga’s album influenced Billboard to change their rules.
“Though that may have been a genius marketing strategy at the time to secure an impressive first-week figure, Billboard is changing its rules so that scoring a #1 album by lowering the price of your LP will be a thing of the past.”
Soon, Billboard required that an album sell for at least $3.49 during the first four weeks of release. However, artists like Janet Jackson, who has also come under fire for chart manipulation tactics, were able to find ways around the rules.
After Hits Daily Double described how at least 30,000 copies of the album were bundled in during the first week of its release, Ms. Jackson started secretly bundling in sales of Unbreakable with t-shirts. There were many people who were told they were getting “free” CDs with every t-shirt or souvenir they purchased, not knowing it was a special trick used to help Janet Jackson’s chart position. One fan became extremely angry and even started a petition against Janet, who soon went as far as to bundle album sales in with Uber rides.
One shouldn’t completely blame Rihanna, Lady Gaga, or Janet Jackson for these tactics as they are decided on by their management and the record company. However, after Rihanna’s backlash, we can soon expect record companies to take a more balanced approach when it comes to promotion.
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]