Why the DJ Khaled situation is only the beginning of new chart manipulation tactics

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      We the second best!

      Everyone’s favourite living meme and motivational quote machine, DJ Khaled, is reportedly planning a lawsuit against Billboard after his latest album, Father of Asahd, debuted at No. 2 on their albums chart behind Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR.

      In a now-deleted Instagram video, Khaled described Tyler’s experimental work as “mysterious shit that you never hear”, as opposed to his own inescapable hit-making ways. However, it seems that the bulk of his rage is directed at Billboard’s failure to clarify the rules surrounding bundling, a controversial practice that’s only being used more and more.

      Khaled officially lost out on the top spot by about 30,000 sales, but Billboard opted not to count an additional 100,000 that were attached to energy shots sold through Shop.com.

      To be fair, downloads of IGOR were bundled with clothing sales as well, but Billboard’s official statement mentioned that they found “strange anomalies” in Khaled’s data.

      Deanna Brown, the president of Billboard, told the New York Times that Shop.com and its owner, Market America, had “crossed a line by encouraging unauthorized bulk sales” and “encouraging purchases among their members by promising them material and organizational benefits”.

      Khaled may actually have a point. A rule may have been broken, but this rule was never publicly known beforehand. Billboard has since announced plans to take a longer look at its rules surrounding bundling and release their revised policies to the public so situations like these are minimized in the future.

      But the charts might still look a little strange.

      Bundling isn’t exactly a new practice—quite a few artists recently have been offering a free download of their album with the purchase of a more expensive item like a concert ticket or clothing, and boosting their chart numbers in the process.

      This week, the Jonas Brothers are on pace for the biggest debut of 2019 so far after they packaged their latest project Happiness Begins with a concert bundle.

      Not that they aren’t massively popular, but that level of success just seems a little off. And who could forget Nicki Minaj’s infamous Twitter rants about losing the No. 1 spot to Travis Scott’s merchandise bundles?

      Now that Khaled has broken new ground by attaching downloads of his album to something cheap like an energy shot, it’s likely that we’ll be seeing artists jockey for chart position in increasingly shady ways. It remains to be seen what Billboard’s new plans will be, but it’s looking like a confusing road ahead.

      After Khaled celebrated taking the No. 1 hip-hop album—a smaller victory, but let him have this one—from Tyler in his second week of sales, he wrote “I’m in the music bizz, not the bundle bizz” in an Instagram post.

      If that’s the case, why complain when your bundles aren’t counted?

      The rules are changing, and it’s getting increasingly hard to keep up with them.