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How Jay-Z’s ‘4:44’ Went Platinum Without “Selling” A Single Copy

Published: Wednesday 5th Jul 2017 by Rashad

Jay-Z changed the game in 2013 thanks to an innovative deal with Samsung and his critically acclaimed ‘Magna Carta.’  The deal, which saw the technology giant purchase his album in bulk, may have not worked to his favor from Billboard’s standpoint, but it certainly helped the rapper around RIAA’s then-platinum certification rule (later inspiring them to change it).

The very change he incited played in his favor yet again when his most recent effort, ‘4:44,’ was certified platinum (as we reported here).  Available exclusively to Tidal and/or Sprint customers (as of time reported), the set’s content has had the net buzzing since last week and now that buzz has only intensified with the RIAA’s shocking report.

Leaving many with scratched heads and Kanye “How Sway?” faces, Billboard has finally lifted the veil on how Jigga landed his historic 13th platinum certification.

According to the “music Bible”:

“One equivalent album unit, as recognized by the RIAA, is equal to: one album sale, 10 tracks sold from an album, or 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video streams from an album. 4:44 was released on June 30 by Roc Nation, and was initially exclusively available as a stream to existing customers of Tidal and Sprint. However, by July 2, the album was also offered as a free download — sponsored by Sprint…

Those album downloads — which were free to the consumer but purchased by a company (Sprint) for distribution — were counted towards the platinum certification.”

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It should be noted the report yielded by Roc Nation to the RIAA says the 1 million album equivalent mark was reached purely by downloads and does NOT include any TIDAL streaming figures.

Furthermore, like ‘Magna’ before it, Billboard was sure to clarify that its pricing policy (which only counts albums purchased at $3.49 or above) still stands and the Sprint-sponsored downloads will NOT count toward ‘4:44’s chart placement.  Only TIDAL figures properly reported to Nielsen Music will count toward its debut ranking.

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  1. Noelle Teague July 5, 2017

    I’m lost.

    • King Z July 5, 2017

      Long story short: Sprint bought a million copies of Jay Z’s album and gave it away to customers for free. For all intents and purposes the albums were PURCHASED…just not by the public at large.

      Billboard doesn’t count the sales cuz they dunno how much Sprint bought each copy for. RIAA doesn’t care about cost. They care about actual units.

      Since 1 million units were SOLD then, by RIAA standards, it’s platinum

      • Dev July 6, 2017

        So i guess he continued accusations of people buying certifications is absolutely true…. this just confirms that the industry is a joke

    • Travon July 5, 2017

      You and me both!

      • Travon July 5, 2017

        Another way to say flop!

    • King Z July 5, 2017

      @travon

      exactly! lol. jay z knew his s*** would flop – critical acclaim or not – and so he took safe measures to build hype. all artists these days are just smoke and mirrors

      • FAF July 5, 2017

        I don’t think he’d flop tho that’s the sad part

        He doesn’t even believe in himself

  2. bey4life July 5, 2017

    Why are people confused? It’s simple.

    RIAA certified 4:44 platinum because 1 million copies were SOLD. Doesn’t matter that one person (Sprint) bought them all.

    • Dev July 6, 2017

      Yes it does, or am i really missing the point of how the industry should work

  3. KCFAN1987 July 5, 2017

    I’m confused as to how ANY OF THIS is even acceptable.

    At this rate, all anybody has to do is get a company to sponsor their album sales. anybody will go platinum at the drop of a dime (literally) by an endorser

    • Jeans July 5, 2017

      Basically, which is not fair at all.

    • K July 5, 2017

      But you have to be a particular artist. Don’t be an Iggy Azelia expecting T Mobile to buy a million copies of your album. It won’t happen.

    • Caleb July 5, 2017

      I know right? Now big corporations are deciding which albums go Platinum!

    • Jasmine July 5, 2017

      In the past, when artists actually sold albums in stores, the units shipped counted towards sales. So if Best Buy decided to have a million copies of a certain artist shipped to their stores then that counted as a million records sold. Same game, just new rules in 2017. However, what is missing is actual direct revenue from album sales. If Sprint purchased 1 million records of 4:44 for $0 then the profit from the album sales is $0 too. A free download or free stream is simply that…a free download or free stream. In the past people purchased music more so there was money to be made from album sales. Jay-Z is saying he accepts that his album will not sale for money so he is playing the smoke and mirrors game to save face.

      • FAF July 5, 2017

        The problem is y’all pick and choose who to drag for it

        Remember roman reloaded and pink print before streams were counted

        We’re BOTH shipping platinum

        And everyone said “cash money bought her plaques!!!”

  4. Gee July 5, 2017

    They RIAA change the rules for certain people and no one cries foul that is why no one takes the music business seriously anymore because of all the cheating and under handed politics. Jay-Z used this method because his ego won’t allow him to flop gracefully.

  5. ThatFLOPJuicea July 5, 2017

    this is all bull s*** if u ask me. how dare they attempt to undermine the work of legends like MJ and Whitney by basically GIVING certifications away these days?

    • FAF July 5, 2017

      They been doing it’s they used to count streams in clubs during Janet’s prime

      BUt like I said she was going platinum effortlessly back then it would’ve made her diamond

  6. Bae Watch July 5, 2017

    Sorry, but this is embarrassing.

  7. ThatFLOPJuice July 5, 2017

    Again, when RIH did it the whole world acted like she cheated. When Jay does it it’s acceptable?!

    BULL S-H-I-TTery in the dancerie

    • Danny Bey July 6, 2017

      Who here is accepting it tho? 🤔

  8. Jeans July 5, 2017

    So basically Sprint bought the album, units to distribute. Smh. I hate these rules. Sprint is platinum, not JAYZ. Lol

  9. MissCookie July 5, 2017

    how is this cheating though? blame the rule makers not the person who discovered the loop hole.

    • Jeans July 5, 2017

      Money can buy platinum status basically.

    • BLOSSOM July 5, 2017

      I wouldn’t want to go platinum this way, ESPECIALLY if I were a man. Even I have more pride than this.

      • Jeans July 5, 2017

        Okaaay!

      • blue July 5, 2017

        @blossom you would want to get paid though right? jayz is just making sure that his project generates a profit one way or another.

    • Tina Lord Roberts July 6, 2017

      It seems tacky, but I don’t see this as “cheating” either. RIAA, Billboard and the rest of the industry knows how Jay-Z rolled out his album and could easily say nay, when it comes to charts and plaques, if they felt he was technically violating any of their rules. It’s hilarious to me when spectators, who don’t work for the RIAA, want to say what’s legitimate and what’s “cheating”.

      This is what happens when people would rather listen to music on YouTube/Spotify/iTunes and iPhone/computer speakers rather than go to record stores and buy a physical CD. If Sam Goody still existed, none of this would be happening. I blame the general public for creating this climate. The artists and labels are just reacting to it.

      • Mr.StLaurent July 6, 2017

        Amen 🙌🏾

  10. Tokyo Vanity fan July 5, 2017

    So do tidal streams actually count towards the charts? I always thought that tidal doesn’t release that info

    • MissCookie July 5, 2017

      Yes, the tidal streams that actually get reported to Nielsen (and can be verified) get counted.

      in the past tidal only reported numbers only to RIAA for certification

  11. Noelle Teague July 5, 2017

    I had 2 read it, okay! I will be waiting for my copy, though.

  12. Queen R July 5, 2017

    I work for sprint an they pay us $3 for every tidal download we activated

    • FAF July 5, 2017

      Wow so like commission

      Damn everybody in bed w the carters !!!!

      Rockefeller s*** literally

    • Casual July 6, 2017

      DO TELL! So basically, Jay-Z bought the million copies himself and then applied for the certification.

  13. Tori July 5, 2017

    …now I no longer like the album. Jay talked all that s***, ESPECIALLY on “The Story of OJ”, just to cheat. The point of a certification in the first is to celebrate an artist selling 1M+ records/singles to the PUBLIC. It’s impressive to know that 1M+ like of love your music enough to buy it but to sell it to a company who gives it away is b*******. Of course people are to listen this way, ITS FREE AND YOUR TARGET ARTIST IS BLACK. BLACK PEOPLE LOVE EVERYTHING FREE! He should’ve took his wife route and found a way to manipulate black audiences to BUY music, and at $15-$20. This is so insecure and color showing. And to make “support black business” a talking point in the album but sell 1M copies to a white company in exchange for a plaque from another white company is a damn contradiction right. Even if it’s only available on your black company, a white company paid for it so…

  14. DanYiel Iman July 5, 2017

    It’s PLATINUM stop the madness! Things change everyday in the music industry!!

    • Noelle Teague July 5, 2017

      Every hour, it seem.

    • Jasmine July 5, 2017

      According to these rules, all an artist has to do is be an independent artist and setup a fake LLC company for themself and then sell 10 million copies of the album to the LLC company at $0 to make history as the first artist that went Diamond in one week.

      • blue July 5, 2017

        actually no. the RIAA has to have sufficient proof that money(and im guessing like billboard they must have a min amount per copy) had changed hands, before they can verify the shipment, so if you can get someone to pay you for that 10mil copies then you are diamond!

  15. Applause July 5, 2017

    Fraud.

    Can’t and Won’t respect this

  16. Alair July 5, 2017

    Why be mad about records sold when no really buys CDs anyway.

    • Jeans July 5, 2017

      It’s the principle. All anyone has to do is get a sponsor to purchase albums and give them away to consumers. It’s just not fair. It’s too easy. Now other artists will do the same. JayZ, I see you. Lemonade and 4:44 were just business moves from husband and wife to manipulate the mass media and everyone is buying into it. Uuuugh. A fan of both, but don’t like their tactics.

      • Jasmine July 5, 2017

        Actually, according to these rules, all an artist has to do is be an independent artist and setup a fake LLC company for themself and then sell 10 million copies of the album to the LLC company at $0 to make history as the first artist that went Diamond in one week.

      • FAF July 5, 2017

        Bc it Spits in ppl face
        So artists who are now dead or retired are having their records broken by cheaters

        It’s unfair

    • Jasmine July 5, 2017

      People buy CDs. If he had released a CD of the album to stores people would have bought it and there would be CD album sales. What he did was play the smoke and mirrors games with the album sales in attempt to bring interest to his upcoming tour.

      • blue July 5, 2017

        you do realise that cd sales are down right? its simple fact that people dont buy CDs not anymore. most music is consumed through streaming now.

      • Jasmine July 6, 2017

        @blue Everyone knows CD sales are down but to deny CD sales completely is simply false. CD sales, digital downloads, and streaming all contribute to the music industry sales as a whole. 1 CD sold is the equivalent of 1,500 song streams from an album from a monetary perspective. Now that is a “simple fact” and you denying CD sales’ existence and importance is simply False.

  17. RealNegro July 5, 2017

    Y’all are so bitter. Don’t hate the player hate the game. Hov stay winning which is why he’s a multimillionaire and you’re not. It’s not cheating. Rules are rules. Watch he hit number one on billboard. Stay pressed(lol). Irate. Mad. Money, money, money. Losers!

    • Jasmine July 5, 2017

      Who said anyone was “bitter”? People have a right to their own opinion. According to these rules, all an artist has to do is be an independent artist and setup a fake LLC company for themself and then sell 10 million copies of the album to the LLC company at $0 to make history as the first artist that went Diamond in one week. Maybe I should do that and make history.

      • Electrikblue July 6, 2017

        But you don’t have the money to produce music and sell 10m units. Not as simple as you make it seem sweetie.

  18. Adele4Life July 5, 2017

    Reading this and wondering what would the Rihanna version of this post be on this site.
    Lol
    No wonder you replies deceeased from 600 a post to 40 a post. Flopping like a new Katy Perry single.
    Lol

    • Jeans July 5, 2017

      LOLOLOL😂

    • Jasmine July 5, 2017

      Why bring up Rihanna? This post is about Jay-Z. Comparing an old male hip-hop artist to a younger female pop star has no relevance, especially when the older rap artist is the pop star’s boss.

      • blue July 5, 2017

        jayz works for rihanna. rihanna did the same deal with samsung that jay did and people where dragging her but are now defending jay for doing the same thing.

  19. Theman July 5, 2017

    Y’all can go somewhere with this people don’t buy records no more crap. He is a huge artist. He would/will debut at number when the physical album gets for released. People do buy music, just not as much as they used to. Anyway, this is a smoke & mirrors move. It makes it appear as though the album is doing lots of business rather quickly lol. This was more about business. He’s trying to draw more people on over to tidal.. But he’ll release the album in a regular way and it’ll go to number one.. This streaming crap is bogus.

    • blue July 5, 2017

      “people do buy music, just not as much as they used to”…do they or do they not?
      music sales are down.FACT!
      more people consume music through streaming then buying albums or singles.FACT!
      highest selling album this year isnt even over 3mil SPS let alone in pure sales.FACT!
      but continue attacking jay for simply making sure his project is profitable.

      • Theman July 6, 2017

        This streaming crap is bogus. It isn’t even real sales. They gotta mix tracks/albums together to make streaming seem bigger than it is. The artists ain’t even getting no real money from it. And people do buy music. Just not to the capacity that they used to..

  20. Theman July 5, 2017

    He’ll debut at number one*..

  21. The truth July 6, 2017

    Didn’t Rihanna do this with Samsung fur Anti

  22. Justafan July 6, 2017

    A whole lotta mumbojumbo. Regardless, Billboard should only allow it to chart based on actual copies purchased by the public not Sprint. I smell fakery

  23. JOHNVIDAL July 6, 2017

    Billboard is kind of a joke now. No doubt, we know it. But what does that make RIIA nowadays then???? LMAO omg the industry is a joke.
    I wasn´t feeling the article so I didn´t read the whole thing. But basically: this is a Rihanna´s “Anti” move, isn´t it? It´s pretty much exactly the same, isn´t it? I hope Rihanna fans don´t try to deny Jay Z his “plaque” when they were fo active defending Rihanna´s fake platinum last go around. I´ve always say it anyway: this whole group of people (Rihanna belongs to Jay Z´s environment) is so fake. Nothing about them feels organic. It´s like they haven´t conquered the masses based on universal real appeal and they have to resort to controlling the industry. It´s been like that since everything started to change for the worst around the year 2000 or so. Thankfully Adele and a few others appeared shwoing what a real phenomenon is in this day and age.

    • Suicide Blonde July 6, 2017

      Bravo 👏

    • The truth July 6, 2017

      Well you know Beyonce is in that group too

    • Electrikblue July 6, 2017

      I’m sure when the album is released to the masses the normal way it’ll still do huge numbers. Lol at all these people upset that a company bought his music to distribute to their customers. Like y’all work in the damn industry and have anything to be upset over.

    • JOHNVIDAL July 6, 2017

      @suicide Thanks. You know we could dig deeper 🙂
      @TheTruth yes of course Beyonce belongs to that group too.

  24. Qaz July 6, 2017

    It was a sneaky, sleazy way of ensuring success, but doesn’t violate any rules and therefore isn’t cheating. Most albums flop. If an artist and their team have the brains and power to go over the usual hurdles that usually kill artists and their latest projects, then I can’t be mad. Jay is simply a good chess player. More black artists need to take a page out of his playbook

  25. Absolved July 6, 2017

    This was a boss move. One that I can’t be that mad at because Jay has long proven that he’s a good investment. Sprint wouldn’t do this with just any act who they weren’t sure would be good for it. His album is going to sell in the long-run and Sprint will make their money back and then some.

  26. Smh July 6, 2017

    Who really cares…

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