Game Changer: Jay-Z Forces RIAA to Make New Rules

Jay-Z’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail is only a few days away, set for release on July 4. And as promised in his commercial that introduced the world to the new album, Magna Carta is already dictating new rules to the music industry. The  Recording Industry Association of America announced that they will be changing the rules for gold and platinum as indicators of digital sales. This a rather swift change for an industry that is traditionally so slow to innovate that they chose to sue small children and grandmothers last time they encountered new rules.

It is also a win for Jay-Z who had famously took to Twitter to poke fun at the RIAA tweeting: “If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesn’t report it, did it happen? Ha. Platinum!!! VII IV XIII.”

Well, we apparently now have the part of the answer to that question – yes. The Nielsen’s original stance was that they do not count bulk sales. More importantly, the RIAA stated an album had be out for at least 30 days before it would be eligible to go platinum. The RIAA has backed off and made the change according to the

“[Previously]  one G&P requirement was that an album needed to be available for 30 days before it would become eligible for certification. As you’d expect, that rule applies to CDs and vinyl — the RIAA says it helps account for returns of physical media — but it also bizarrely included digital album sales before today’s change. Citing the vastly different landscape of today’s music business compared to 2004 (when the digital rules were implemented), Kennedy readily admits that the policy “no longer makes sense.” She goes on, saying, “The reality is that how fans consume music is changing, the music business is changing as labels and artists partner with a breathtaking array of new technology services, and the industry’s premier award recognizing artists’ commercial achievement should similarly keep pace.” (The 30-day timeframe will still be applied to physical sales.)”

The Jigga man’s 12th studio album is now officially leading what is probably going to be the new business model for music as we move fully into a digital music age. And although this is half of the battle, we’re are sure Billboard will be the next to adopt the #newrules. They were already finding it difficult to come to their original stance to deny Magna Carta Holy Grail instant #1 status according to their website:

“It wasn’t as simple as you might think to turn down Jay-Z when he requested that we count the million albums that Samsung ‘bought’ as part of a much larger brand partnership, to give away to Samsung customers,” Werde wrote in a letter from the editor. “True, nothing was actually for sale — Samsung users will download a Jay-branded app for free and get the album for free a few days later after engaging with some Jay-Z content. The passionate and articulate argument by Jay’s team that something was for sale and Samsung bought it also doesn’t mesh with precedent.”

Sounds like they’ll be swayed soon enough.

What is ironic about Jay-Z’s new album and “new rules” is that the release style is an old idea. As we are reminded by

“Jay-Z originally wanted The Black Album to be harder and he wanted the album to have little promotion. Clearly that didn’t happen, and it might have been because he didn’t have the clout back then… He has a lot more clout now. Which might explain Magna Carta Holy Grail. The album drops on July 4th and even though that’s less than a week away, the LP is completely shrouded in mystery, with not even a single being released.”

Now of course the original idea probably didn’t have a major sponsor like Samsung attached to it. This is still the future of the music, and it is commendable that an artist of Jay-Z’s stature is leading the way for the rest to follow.


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