Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ album sold 527k copies in the US alone in its first week on sale – higher than industry analysts had expected, with predictions a few weeks ago that it’d sell up to 400k first-week copies.
It’s more than his last two albums, ‘The Blueprint 3’ (476k in 2009) and Kanye collaboration ‘Watch The Throne’ (436k in 2011), and the second-biggest debut-week sales for an album in 2013 behind Justin Timberlake’s 968k for ‘The 20/20 Experience’ and ahead of Daft Punk’s 339k for ‘Random Access Memories’.
What else do those albums share? Well, they were all available on streaming services the day they went on sale: no holdouts here.
In fact, the Timberlake and Daft Punk albums were both available to stream pre-release on iTunes, while Jay-Z gave away up to 1m copies of his album through an Android app and *still* shifted more than half a million copies.
It shouldn’t be news that big albums get big streams and big sales – and that those can be complementary – but it’s worth repeating. Jay-Z’s album was streamed in full 14m times on Spotify in the US during that first week, according to Forbes, putting it well ahead of Daft Punk’s 9.5m first-week streams and Mumford & Sons’ 8m.
In Jay-Z’s case, the obvious caveat is that lots of his fans won’t have owned the necessary Samsung smartphones to get the free download. High sales are a hint that many chose not to hit up the nearest torrent tracker as a result.
The row over the Android app’s approach to privacy and social promotion is still rumbling, but in all other respects, the strategy behind ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ is looking like a success – albeit with the caveat that we should wait and see how it sells in week two and beyond before reaching a final conclusion on that.