US album sales race turns ugly as Nicki Minaj accuses Spotify of ‘taking away my promotion’

There was a very tight-run race on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US last week – and, as might have been predicted, there’s been some headline-grabbing fallout.

Nicki Minaj’s Queen, released on August 10 via Young Money/Cash Money, fought Travis Scott’s Astroworld (Cactus Jack/Epic) in its second week on the chart, for the No.1 spot.

In the end, Astroworld took the crown – recording 205,000 equivalent US sales versus Queen’s 185,000.

The two albums were neck and neck on traditional album sales with 78k each, while Astroworld had a lead of 28,000 on streaming equivalent album units with 125,000 versus Queen’s 97,000.


Both parties found tricks up their sleeve last week with which to boost sales: Minaj launched a bundle deal on her own site (see inset) which allowed fans to download her album for just $5, complete with a free Queen poster and a three-month trial to TIDAL.

Scott, meanwhile, bundled his album in with (a) merchandise and (b) pre-sale ticket access to his upcoming Astroworld tour – a tour which, to Minaj’s fury, has yet to be officially announced.

Further infuriating Minaj: Scott’s girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, encouraged her 113m Instagram followers to check out Scott’s merch/ticket store just as the album sales race was hotting up.

“Billboard says they’ll change the rules cuz of this, so it should be changed now!”

Nicki Minaj

A livid Minaj tweeted yesterday (August 19): “Travis sold over 50K of these [merch/tour bundles]. With no requirement of redeeming the album! With no dates for a tour, etc. I spoke to him. He knows he doesn’t have the #1 album this week. I love my fans for the #1 album in AMERICA!”

Yep: that’s Nicki Minaj claiming she had the real No.1 album in America, despite officially having the No.2 album in America.

She added: “Travis sold 200K in his first week of clothes alone. I spoke to him last night & he said he’s been selling clothes b4 the music. Billboard says they’ll change the rules cuz of this, so it should be changed now!”


Minaj didn’t stop there: another target of the rapper’s was Spotify – and she was even more stinging in her rebuke for Daniel Ek’s company than she was for Scott’s team.

Minjaj exclusively premiered Queen on her Apple/Beats 1 radio show minutes before it landed on other streaming services.

She claims that Spotify punished her for this decision by freezing promotion of her record.

Minaj tweeted: “Spotify put drake’s face on every playlist but told me they’d have to teach me a lesson for playing my music 10 mins early on #QueenRadio. Even tho they’ve been giving away my music for free for years & I am one of the top Spotify artists of all time.”

“Spotify put drake’s face on every playlist but told me they’d have to teach me a lesson for playing my music 10 mins early on #QueenRadio… Even tho they’ve been giving away my music for free for years & I am one of the top Spotify artists of all time.”

nicki minaj

She continued: “Spotify had to teach me a lesson but rewarded the man who has had an Apple radio show the longest [Drake]; inadvertently helping the Apple platform the most… [Spotify] took away my promotion they had promised for the 1st cpl days b/c of this.” [Explainers in square brackets are MBW’s.]

Minaj further claimed that her label, Cash Money/Republic, didn’t want to defend her against Spotify for fears of the platform punishing fellow Republic artist Ariana Grande as a result.

“My label didn’t want to defend me for fear of Spotify trying to teach Ariana a ‘lesson’ too!” she tweeted.

A Spotify rep has responded to the accusations with a statement printed by Hits Daily Double, which reads: “Spotify supported Nicki Minaj with a Times Square billboard, a host of the largest playlists, New Music Friday and the new music release shelf.

“Her song “Bed” actually saw an increase based on the promotions put behind the campaign. The company continues to be big fans of Nicki.”Music Business Worldwide

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