×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Photo of Jay-Z With ‘4:44’ Platinum Plaque Award Was Taken Before Album Was Released

It did seem a little pat when a press release trumpeting the platinum certification of Jay-Z’s 13th and latest album, “4:44” — complete with a photo of the artist and RIAA CEO Cary Sherman holding a plaque — arrived at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning, just five days after the album’s release, following an unusually long July 4th holiday. Similarly, the certification seemed fast, considering that the album was available (legally, anyway) only to Tidal members and Sprint subscribers.

While “4:44” was met immediately with praise from fans and critics alike, it may not quite be the instant hit that it seemed at first blush. Variety has learned that the plaque presentation took place before the album was even released. And while there was no sales-breakdown information included in the press release — or even an explanation of where and how the album was available — the certification is based on a combination of both Tidal streams and Sprint download numbers, although a source close to the situation told Variety that the download numbers alone pushed the album past 1 million units.

Indeed, that latter figure is the rub: A source close to the situation told Variety that “a sale counts toward a certification if purchased directly by the customer — or a business can purchase the album or song and offer it to fans, who must take affirmative steps to acquire the album or song. Fans participated, took action and downloaded Jay-Z’s album offered by Sprint.”

At press time, reps for Tidal and Sprint had not responded to Variety’s request for clarification.

The arrangement sounds similar to Jay’s 2013 deal with Samsung for “Magna Carta: Holy Grail,” which saw the company purchasing 1 million downloads of that album and giving them away for free to owners of its Galaxy smartphone 72 hours before the album’s wide release, thus making it “instantly” platinum. In anticipation of that album’s release, the RIAA changed its rules to allow digital albums to be certified platinum on their release date, rather than its previous 30-day waiting period, which allowed for physical units to be tallied.

Based on the initial press release, many outlets, including Variety, assumed that the quick platinum certification of “4:44” was due to Tidal streams — which would have meant an incredible 1.5 billion song streams in just five days — until the RIAA clarified, an hour after the press release was serviced, that the Sprint-enabled downloads were a significant factor, although it cited the organization’s policy of not providing a breakdown of certifications by format.

The RIAA began incorporating streaming numbers into album certifications on Feb. 1, 2016, using a formula similar to that of Nielsen Music’s whereby 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video song streams = 10 track sales = 1 album sale (the organization began incorporating streaming numbers into single certifications in 2013).

More Music

  • 'Asbury Park' Doc Covers Bruce Springsteen,

    Film Review: 'Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock 'N Roll'

    A civic Phoenix story is promised and effectively delivered in “Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock ‘N Roll,” even if there’s little doubt that what much of the audience will be hoping for from this documentary is Bruce, the whole Bruce and nothing but the Bruce. The film satisfies a good portion of that craving with [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Files Appeal Seeking Return

    Woodstock 50 Files Appeal Seeking Return of $18 Million From Former Financial Partner

    In the latest round of the ongoing legal battle between the organizers of Woodstock 50 and their erstwhile partners Dentsu Aegis, attorney Marc Kasowitz announced that the festival has filed an appeal for Dentsu to return some $18.5 million the financial giant withdrew from the organizers’ bank account. That money has been a point of [...]

  • Taylor Swift The Voice

    Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie Make 'Voice' Finale All About 'Me!' (Watch)

    A new winner was crowned on “The Voice” Tuesday night. But did that champion emerge from a dark chrysalis as the world’s largest and most glittery butterfly? Sorry, Madelyn Jarmon — that is a parking spot that is still very much reserved for overall life champion Taylor Swift, who took to the NBC telecast to [...]

  • Phillip Eubanks and Marc Hemeon Join

    Phillip Eubanks and Marc Hemeon Join Troy Carter’s Q&A

    Q&A, the music and tech company founded by former Lady Gaga manager and Spotify exec Troy Carter, today announced the appointments of Phillip Eubanks as Chief Operating Officer (pictured above, right) and Marc Hemeon as Head of Design (left). The pair join Carter, J. Erving (Human Re Sources, Atom Factory), Suzy Ryoo (Atom Factory, OMD) [...]

  • Swae Lee

    Hitmaker of the Month: Swae Lee on 'Sunflower,' Working With Post Malone and Madonna

    Swae Lee is on another roll. The rapper, singer, songwriter and one half of the duo Rae Sremmurd, first made his mark back in 2015, with catchy, quirky urban smashes such as “No Flex Zone” and “No Type,” that were first underground anthems before eventually exploding onto radio stations nationwide. More recently, Lee, born Khalif [...]

  • Aretha Franklin'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of

    Three Handwritten Wills Found in Aretha Franklin's Home

    While Aretha Franklin was thought to have died without leaving behind a will, earlier this month three documents were discovered by her niece and filed in court earlier this week, according to the Associated Press. Two handwritten wills, dating from 2010, were found in a locked cabinet, and another from 2014 was discovered in a [...]

  • The Rook

    'The Rook,' Shondaland, Ted Sarandos Among Programming for SeriesFest 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    The fifth edition of SeriesFest will deliver panels and programming designed to celebrate individual talent as well as companies who are “taking creative risks and leveraging advances in technology to reimagine storytelling.” On the linup is Starz’s upcoming supernatural thriller “The Rook,” a panel with the creatives behind Shondaland, a look at LGBTQ representation on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content