Jay-Z's Samsung Deal Made the Record Industry Change the Way It Counts Sales

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As soon as Jay-Z announced his deal with Samsung in which the tech giant bought up 1 million copies of his new album for Samsung Galaxy owners to download early, one question abounded: Did that mean Magna Carta Holy Grail had already gone platinum? Jay-Z himself even embarked on a rare Twitter campaign regarding the matter, and now he has at least one answer. The Recording Industry Association of America has amended their rules because of Jay-Z and the disruption he hath wrought once again, and now digital sales of all albums will be eligible for record-status certification on their release date.

Previously, albums had been eligible for certification — 100,000 copies for silver, 500,000 for gold, 1,000,000 for platinum, 10,000,000 for diamond — only after 30 days post-release, to take into account returns of CDs, records, and all those other formerly relevant formats. But returns aren't relevant when it comes to digital sales, which is why the RIAA's Digital Single Award, created in 2004, does not include that lag time. "We think it's time for the RIAA — and Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman — to align our digital song and album certification requirements," Liz Kennedy of the RIAA wrote in Monday night's announcement. "That's why today we are officially updating this rule in our G&P Program requirements. Going forward, sales of albums in digital format will become eligible on the release date, while sales of albums in physical format will still become eligible for certification 30 days after the release date."  

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So does Jay-Z get the label he seemed to want so badly? As Kyle Anderson at Entertainment Weekly writes, "yes and no." He explains that "since Samsung already pre-purchased one million digital downloads of Magna Carta Holy Grail, it will be eligible for platinum certification immediately." But Billboard is still not counting the Samsung deal on their charts, as Bill Werde detailed in a letter from the editor

And, FYI, for those of you who anxious to help Jay, just know that, before you get too excited, Rick Rubin is not actually producing the album. He was just there for the commercials. Magna Carta is available for free to the first million who grabbed the special app — and for all Galaxy owners — on Thursday. The iPhone-owning plebes and everyone else will have to wait till Tuesday.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.