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Nicki Minaj hits out at Spotify after Queen album misses #1 in the US


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Nicki Minaj isn’t happy with Spotify at all. But this isn’t an argument about royalties: it’s about her new album ‘Queen’ only getting to number two in the US chart in its week of release, with Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’ holding on to the top spot. According to Billboard, Scott’s album recorded 205k equivalent-album units last week compared to Minaj’s 185k – including 167.5m and 128.7m on-demand streams respectively.

In a series of tweets, Minaj initially claimed that ‘Queen’ was the rightful number one, citing Scott’s tactic of selling bundles of tickets and merchandise with the album – although this is something that she is also (just as smartly) doing on her own online store. “Travis sold over 50K of these. With no requirement of redeeming the album! With no dates for a tour, etc. I spoke to him. He knows he doesn’t have the #1 album this week,” tweeted Minaj. “I spoke to him last night & he said he’s been selling clothes b4 the music. Billboard says they’ll change the rules cuz of this, so it should be changed now!”

But then she turned her attention to Spotify, suggesting that the streaming service had punished her for playing the new album on her Queen Radio show on Apple Music’s Beats 1 earlier than it was available to stream on Spotify.

“Spotify put drake’s face on every playlist but told me they’d have to teach me a lesson for playing my music 10 mins early on #QueenRadio. Even tho they’ve been giving away my music for free for years & I am one of the top Spotify artists of all time,” wrote Minaj.

“Spotify had to teach me a lesson but rewarded the man who has had an Apple radio show the longest; inadvertently helping the Apple platform the most. Oh I can’t wait for #QueenRadio on Tuesday. They took away my promotion they had promised for the 1st cpl days b/c of this. My music went up on Apple so I played it. I assumed it was on Spotify & Tidal at the same time. Spotify said that Apple tweeted fans advising #Queen was up & therefore they had to teach me a lesson.”

With Minaj alleging that her label “didn’t want to defend me for fear of Spotify trying to teach Ariana a ‘lesson’ too” this has quickly escalated into a PR headache for Republic Records (and thus Universal Music Group more widely), as well as for Spotify. “Do you know how many people subscribe to my Spotify page?” added Minaj. The answer is 12.1 million followers, although in terms of monthly listeners on Spotify she has 32.2 million, making her the 18th biggest artist on the platform at the time of writing.

The row is one-sided for now – we’ve contacted Spotify for any statement giving its side of the story, and will provide an update in tomorrow’s bulletin if there is one. It can’t help but remind us of stories in August 2016 suggesting that Katy Perry’s track ‘Rise’ had been “blackballed” on Spotify after getting a week-long exclusive on Apple Music.

That’s a different situation from playing tracks a few minutes early on Beats 1, though. Spotify may want to get its response in before Minaj takes to the Beats 1 airwaves again tomorrow. “I bit my tongue last #QueenRadio but I won’t On Tuesday,” she warned in one of her tweets…

 

Stuart Dredge

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