Music bundling and bloated albums are among the latest attempts by artists to skew album charting, streaming numbers, and sales in their favor.
DJ Khaled is not the first nor the last to join the endless debate about the validity of these kinds of marketing strategies.
After his latest album, Father of Asahd, charted at number 2 (behind Tyler the Creator's IGOR) Khaled threatened to sue, claiming his album sold more than Billboard stated. The controversy stems from Khaled's bundle deal with Hype Power: With a purchase of the DJ Khaled Official Energy Drink Vibes Berry Colada, customers also receive a download link of his album.
According to Khaled, Billboard agreed to recognize the bundle deal as a part of the album sales but then backtracked, arguing there were "anomalies" in the financial records. Khaled accused Billboard of hypocrisy since they recognized Tyler the Creator's merch bundles as a part of record sales.
The threatened lawsuit reopens the conversation about record sales and how institutions like Billboard quantify and justify an album's "number one spot" on the charts. The debate continues to put artists at odds and in competition with each other. Similar to Khaled, Nicki Minaj claimed that Travis Scott's Astroworld did not deserve to beat her album, Queen, on the charts after his tour bundles boosted his album sales.
Although many sided with Scott, Minaj's highly anticipated album and unsuccessful comeback have Billboard reassessing their rules regarding bundle deals with merchandise. While the music industry has been able to keep up with the shift from sales to streaming, the questionable tactics used to influence record numbers are a key issue that could be blown wide open if brought to court. Only time will tell, but either way, we can all agree Khalid's chaotic 15-track album with 29 features doesn't deserve any more attention than it's already received.