Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jay-Z's "4:44' Shows Changing Music Metrics

Jay-Z’s “4:44”, was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on Wednesday, but how the rapper’s 14th album racked up over 1 million sales could represent the next stage in digital music business.

“It’s a whole new world,” said Belmont University assistant professor of Entertainment Industry Studies Sarita Stewart told The Tennessean.

As more consumers transition from physical copies to digital streaming services Spotify, artists and music industry metric trackers have adapted.

A study conducted last year by the Music Business Association showed that 15 to 19-year-olds spend 51 percent of their total listening time in a typical day using streaming services. It was on 24 percent for all other age groups.

The impressive first week sales of "4:44" illustrate a creative strategy to reach digital music consumers beyond the streaming services. Jay-Z partnered with Sprint to pre-sell digital copies of the album, which Sprint users then could download with a code.

The world digital music is a constantly changing environment with artists and industries in the music world trying to adapt. Three years ago, Taylor Swift pulled her music from certain streaming services to protest the "free-mium" model before ultimately putting her discography back on Spotify in June. In a sign of its newfound prominence, music streaming sales hit an historic high in 2016.

The next evolution could be partnerships between artists and businesses to promote music.

The tabulation for Jay-Z's platinum certification also demonstrates the changing metrics the music industry utilizes to quantify success. “4:44” was initially only available to members of the streaming service Tidal (which Jay-Z partially owns) and Sprint mobile customers.

Before the release, Jay’s record label Roc Nation sold what amounted to digital copies of the album to Sprint, who would then give those as downloads to fans with a code.

A spokesperson for RIAA explained that the Sprint downloads were tabulated as sales because fans took the proactive step to download the album.

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