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FOUR WILD CARDS

Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye, Coldplay and Navigating Q4

How do the expected Q4 releases from Columbia’s Beyoncé (whose previous album bowed with 618k on 12/15/13), Roc Nation’s Rihanna (238k, 11/25/12), Def Jam’s Kanye West (327k, 6/23/13) and Parlophone’s Coldplay (383k, 5/25/14), all with release dates TBD, fit into the picture? Beyoncé will debut at #1 no matter when her album drops, apart from 11/20; otherwise, Adele is a heavy favorite to hold the top spot through the rest of the year. There appear to be two or three windows—Dec. 4, 11 and possibly the 18th—and the prognosticators believe a first week of 300k could knock Adele off the top perch.

Considering their respective sales histories, Beyoncé and Coldplay have shown they can hit or surpass the magic number, while Rihanna’s previous five releases have averaged just under 200k, and Kanye’s track record is too erratic to make a call one way or the other. If Beyoncé’s album makes it this year, it will almost certainly crush the others, while Coldplay would outperform Rihanna and Kanye. And although Kanye is not hot record-wise, he should still outsell Rihanna, whose forthcoming album has no vibe yet. It’s also worth noting that there’s a Tidal connection to all four releases. The three solo artists and Chris Martin were all at the launch and all have business and personal relationships with Jay Z.

Rights holders, meanwhile, shudder to think of how Tidal’s involvement could have a dramatic negative impact on the worldwide sales of any of those four releases. Tidal has still not paid licensing fees to the major rights holders, but because of Jay Z’s personal relationships he’s drawn a pass for now. No major rights holder wants to take the heat for shutting Tidal down because of the different artists’ involvement—and all assume this situation will resolve with either the service’s closure or its sale to a deeper pocket. 

 

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