Britney Spears suffered a blow on August 20 after her much-anticipated ninth studio album, Glory, leaked online six days before its official release on August 26.
As UnrealityTV reported, fans were beside themselves after Glory hit the web, almost a whole week in advance, after a store in Mexico reportedly sold physical copies of the album to fans, leaving Spears' most dedicated followers "furious."
Unverified numbers reported by @TheFactsOfShade claimed that Glory could have been downloaded an estimated 200,000 times in the first few hours following its release, sending fans into disarray that the leak could affect Spears' official sales and upcoming chart position.
But how will Glory's leak actually affect Britney's big comeback?Spears's fans have appeared divided regarding the leak on social media, with some claiming that the early release will prevent Britney and her team from enjoying a high-charting debut, while others speculated that the leak could actually have had the opposite affect and spike interest in the star's ninth studio release.
Immediately following the leak, the hashtag #Glory began to trend on Twitter, raising awareness of Britney's first release in almost three years and suggesting that the leak could have created some buzz around the album that money cannot buy.
"Just think though if everyone's tweeting that #Glory it may start trending [worldwide] and BOOM PROMO," @liammoates tweeted out prior to the leak drama, while @edgyzeus added after the release hit the web, "I don't find #Glory leak as a problem because the album is really good and I'm sure it will do well in term of sales."But despite some Britney fans playing down the severity of the early leak, other Spears followers were quick to point out that the estimated 200,000 downloads could severely hurt Britney's chart position, particularly seeing as Spears' previous release, 2013's Britney Jean, only debuted with 107,000 units sold back in 2013, according to Billboard.
"#Glory should've had an exclusive iTunes release before they shipped CDs to stores. 200k illegal downloads in 1 day...That's gonna hurt bad!" @OnMyMiNd04 speculated, while @Britney_Soldier added, "200K illegal downloads. Guys we're so screwed. #Glory."
Britney's team have since been scrambling to pull links to the leaked version of Spears latest release while fans took to social media to urge listeners to purchase legal copies of Glory upon its release.
"I hope everyone who has heard the album from the leaks buy it too! Glory needs to go to the top!" Britney fan @Devin_J_Wallace tweeted, and @BibleGirl666 told Spears on the social media site, "@britneyspears we are so proud of you and will buy this album regardless of leaks! you put your ALL into #GLORY and it shows. Thank you."
But while fans continue to fret, Glory's premature leak has also allowed fans, social media users, and journalists alike to review the album ahead of its August 26 drop, surrounding the album with a whole lot of positive noise.
Early reviews of Britney's hotly anticipated ninth release have been generally positive, with A Bit of Pop Music telling readers that "Britney Spears delivers her best record in years with Glory."
The Poppy Pyro also had nothing but praise for Britney and Glory after reviewing the leaked version, claiming, "[W]hen I tell you that Britney Spears' new album induced goosebumps from start to finish, I am not lying. This album is no joke."
Tweets about Glory have also been overwhelmingly positive, even from social media users claiming not to be fans of Spears."Not a huge Britney fan, but she really did her thing with Glory. Didn't skip through one track," @CNJDirect wrote after listening to the leak.
Glory still has a strong chance of a high position when its opening week sales are published next week, though it's also worth noting that even if the leak catastrophically affects sales, Spears and her team haven't necessarily suffered at the hands of chart mediocrity in the past.
Spears' 2013 release Britney Jean became the worst charting album in her career, only just entering the top 5 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 and barely scraping the top 40 in other territories, including the U.K., yet Spears' star remained one of the brightest in the music sky.
In the absence of a top 40 hit since 2013, Spears still draws thousands of fans to her Las Vegas residency shows on a weekly basis and even received Billboard's prestigious Millennium Award earlier this year.
Do you think Glory's leak will impact Britney Spears album's sales?
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]