DJ Khaled is preparing to drop a “monster” lawsuit on Billboard after his album, Father of Asahd, was knocked to the number two spot on its albums chart following a decision to discount an alleged 100,000 downloads sold as part of a bundle deal.
A New York Times report over the weekend shined a light on the controversial practice of merchandise bundling, in which artists and record companies inflate their album sales by packaging free album downloads with the sale of things like concert tickets, clothing and other merchandise. Though no one seems to like it, bundling has become a necessary evil in order to rocket an album to the top of the charts.
But Billboard ran into a problem a few weeks ago when deciding whether the number one spot belonged to Father of Asahd or Tyler, the Creator’s Igor. As the paper points out,
Each had gotten an almost equal number of streams, so the contest for No. 1 largely came down to the validity of their bundles. Tyler offered clothing and even campaign-style lawn signs (“Vote Igor!”), while DJ Khaled’s album was included with sales of energy drinks through an e-commerce site, Shop.com.
After scrutinizing the two campaigns, Billboard gave the victory to Tyler. The magazine disqualified most of DJ Khaled’s bundled purchases, suspecting that some of the marketing by Shop.com and its corporate parent, Market America, had crossed a line by encouraging unauthorized bulk sales. One blog post from the company, for example, told its members to buy 12 packages to “push DJ Khaled and Market America to No. 1!”
Obviously this has not sat well with with Khaled. According to Page Six, Billboard initially agreed to count the downloads, but later backtracked. A source told the tabloid that when Khaled tried to appeal the decision, Billboard refused to budge.
“We dispute their decision on behalf of DJ Khaled and, frankly, every artist who is forced to navigate bundling an album download with an inexpensive item that still effectively represents their brand,” Desiree Perez, chief operating officer at Khaled’s management company Roc Nation, told the Times. “It’s confusing and demeaning to the art.”