Depending on who you talk to about Anti, the recently released album by pop diva Rihanna, you’ll either hear one of two narratives: That Anti is indeed a platinum-selling album or that Anti isn’t platinum at all because Rihanna “cheated.”
According to BBC, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album as platinum. In fact, the RIAA sent out a congratulatory tweet about the honor.
You would think the above would be enough to stop any relevant arguments over whether Rihanna’s latest effort made the grade. However, certain music fans have called into question whether or not the RIAA counted the free downloads when handing over the platinum status to Anti. If you didn’t know, prior to the album’s release, Samsung made a $25 million deal with the “B**ch Better Have My Money” singer. That agreement allowed (exclusively through Tidal) the album to initially be downloaded entirely for free during a window of a few hours. After the dust had settled, the album had over 1.4 million downloads. Free downloads.
That may be why, as Spin reports, Billboard has yet to confirm a belief that Anti went platinum in less than a day.
Though the RIAA is recognizing ANTI’s milestone numbers, Billboard and Nielsen are not counting ANTI’s sales on TIDAL towards their totals.
“There were conversations [with Billboard] early on when this promotion and partnership started, but ultimately it became about giving music directly to the fans.”
While fans of Rihanna may be happy with both the album and the platinum status, one has to wonder if the platinum artist is a thing of the past. If free albums count towards music-selling record in a post-Napster world, does it mean the recording industry has truly given up on music fans and their desire to pay for music?
In 1999, Napster was sued by the RIAA for allowing internet users to get millions of songs and albums for free. Although the peer-to-peer file-sharing service never recovered, from its ashes rose the simple fact of life that where free music was available, it would be happily downloaded. The days of running to the store to buy CDs in person (or even going out of one’s way to “burn” CDS) was over.
In the early part of the 2000s, the “powers that be” in the music industry made it known that they wouldn’t stand for illegal downloads. A few failed cheesy guilt-trip campaigns later, and it looks like the panic is over. Or maybe because those free downloads were covered by Samsung, the RIAA isn’t too fussed about how the album went platinum.
The same can’t be said for a slew of music fans, who feel the snubbing of Anti by both Neilsen and Billboard are just confirmation that Rihanna is a fraud. For those who feel so strongly about the platinum status of the pop diva’s new music, it’s important to remember that — and this is coming from Grace Kim, TIDAL’s Director of Marketing — the point of Anti was NEVER to BE a platinum-selling success. It was for Rihanna’s fans, fans that had started to give up on the idea of new music from their favorite artist anytime soon. It was a chance to get that music directly to her fan base as quickly as possible.
Rihanna’s fans are indeed pleased with her and Anti, and it’s very likely that Rihanna herself is very pleased to have finally released the long-awaited album. Whether or not Anti is deserving of being lauded as platinum seems purely to be a matter of strongly-held opinion.
At least, if you’re willing to overlook the fact that in the United States, the RIAA alone has the power to determine whether or not an album goes platinum. Nothing anyone else thinks seems to matter, at least not officially.
Do you think an album that has a slew of free downloads should be considered “platinum” or are people over thinking this? Share your opinion below!
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Clara Lionel Foundation]