RIAA Bows to Jay-Z's New Rules

MCHG prompts sales-tracking association to change policy.

Posted: 07/01/2013 05:22 PM EDT
Jay-Z

Magna Carta Holy Grail isn't even out yet, and it's power is already being felt. Jay-Z's unprecedented deal with Samsung, which bought one million copies of the forthcoming release to offer to its Galaxy users, has "prompted" the Recording Industry Association of America adjust a longstanding digital sales policy.

In a "Common Sense" blog posted Monday (Jul. 1) by Liz Kennedy, Director of the RIAA's Communications and Gold & Platinum Program department, the RIAA claims to have "re-reviewed rules" and consulted with their long-term auditing firm to discover the "one rule disparity that no longer makes sense."

"By now, many of us in the music business, as well as Jay-Z fans, know that Samsung has purchased one million Magna Carta Holy Grail digital albums to be given away to the phone maker’s customers," wrote Kennedy. "It is a novel and creative marketing move and it has rightly stimulated a healthy conversation about the sale’s meaning and implications for the modern music business."   

The old rule in question required 30-days before an album can become eligible for certification. The reasoning was that that time frame allows for sales returns to be counted against an artist's final tally. In the digital world, however, the return is too infrequent an activity (happening approximately only 2% of the time), so that clause is now gone. "We think it’s time for the RIAA – and Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman [their auditing agency] – to align our digital song and album certification requirements," wrote Kennedy.

"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."

Previously, Billboard declined to adjust their certification practices, citing, for example, that no customer transaction is taking place since Galaxy users can download the MCHG app and album for free. And, as of press time, Billboard is maintaining that even with the RIAA new rule, Jay still will have to go platinum on their charts the old fashioned way.

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(Photo: C.Smith/WENN.com)

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