During the promotional aspect of her album campaign an exhibit at the unveiling of the cover art for her newest album ANTI claimed that by “continuing to follow her own instincts, Rihanna’s work strives to make an impact by doing the very antithesis of what the public expects.”
And judging by sales alone, it is quite evident that ANTI is not what the general public expected.
The album debuted at No. 27 on the Billboard 200, selling less than 1,000 copies in the United States in its first day on sale. According to the New York Times, a source with knowledge of the Nielsen numbers said only 460 albums were sold on that Thursday.
But through Rihanna’s sponsorship giveaway deal with Samsung, 1.47 million copies of ANTI were handed out as free downloads to fans. The album has also been streamed 5.6 million times, according to Tidal.
Data from Nielsen show that the album had been streamed 4.7 million times by the end of the January 28.
Despite the low initial sales, the album quickly reached No. 1 on iTunes’s internal charts, and industry sales executives predict that ANTI could sell up to 130,000 copies in its first full week of sales, which would be reflected on next week’s chart.
Billboard’s chart policies disqualify albums that are part of gratis promotions, so the Samsung giveaways do not count.
One explanation is that ANTI‘s sales were made outside the United States — Tidal operates in dozens of countries around the world — or extended past the deadline to be included on this week’s chart, which was midnight Thursday. Either way, Rihanna’s album did not have the blockbuster chart opening that she is accustomed to; her last album, Unapologetic, from late 2012, debuted at No. 1, and each of her seven earlier studio albums had debuted in the Top 10. Her single Work debuted at No. 9 on the Hot 100.
Physical copies of Rihanna’s ANTI will be available worldwide on February 5, 2016.
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