Case in point: Nielsen SoundScan's regulation governing what kind of album sales count. As we all learned in a three-minute commercial during Sunday night's game 5 NBA finals, Jay has partnered with Samsung in a promotion for the album that will have the company giving away 1 million copies of Magna Carta to users of its Galaxy line of products three days before its July 4 release.
And while that appears to guarantee Jigga instant platinum status before the album even hits shelves, Billboard thinks otherwise. Billboard doesn't count bulk sales, which means that if anyone, even, say, Beyoncé, buys a million copies of Magna Carta and gives them away as Independence Day party favors they can't be counted as sales according to the magazine's long-standing policy.
This differs from major retailers like Walmart or Target that buy large quantities of popular albums with the intent of selling them to consumers for a set price.
As for whether Magna Carta can go platinum before it goes on sale to the general public, a spokesperson for the Recording Industry Association of America (the folks who hand out gold and platinum certifications) told MTV News on Tuesday (June 18) that albums only become eligible for RIAA certification 30 days after their initial release date.
Also, albums must be sold by a label/artist/music company to a retailer (such as Target, Best Buy, Amazon or Samsung) at a minimum of one-third of the album's Suggested Retail Price. According to reports, Samsung paid $5 a piece for each Jay-Z album. (It was unknown at press time what the SRP would be for Jay's album.)
Once all that is figured out, after 30 days pass, then Jay and Universal can choose to apply for certification and the RIAA's auditors will go over the data to determine what, if any, certification Magna Carta is eligible for.
Jay seems to know that his envelope-pushing deal with the South Korean electronics giant is setting a new standard, but he's not letting the possibility that instant platinum may not be a thing stand in his way. "If 1 million records gets SOLD and Billboard doesn't report it, did it happen? Ha. #newrules #magnacartaholygrail Platinum!!!," he wrote on Monday. A spokesperson for the rapper could not be reached for comment at press time.
The rapper's label, Universal Music Group, is reportedly still negotiating in an effort to get the Samsung sales counted, but given the firepower Jigga displayed in the ad (Rick Rubin, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Pharrell), and his chart track record, platinum is not the problem.