‘You can buy No.1s on Billboard’: Tekashi 6ix9ine claims 30,000 Ariana Grande single sales were purchased using 6 credit cards

Tekashi 6ix9ine is not happy.

The rapper released his first music in well over a year on Friday, May 8 with GOOBA, a new track and video that set multiple records.

For example, GOOBA, distributed by Create Music Group, became the fastest video in history to reach 100m views on YouTube by an American artist.

To date, the track has also racked up 46.04m streams on Spotify.

It transpires that 6ix9ine, however, is not the new No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. That honor instead goes to Stuck With U – the recently-released single from Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber (co-written by Scooter Braun) that’s raising money for the New York-based First Responders Children’s Foundation.

At least, that’s what 6ix9ine, real name Daniel Hernandez, is telling the world, in a video rant posted on Instagram earlier today (May 18).

6ix9ine starts the video by making a bold – and thus far unsubstantiated – claim: “I want the world to know Billboard is a lie. You can buy No.1s on Billboard.”

(When he says Billboard, he’s obviously referring to the US publication’s charts, which are pulled together with Nielsen Music/MRC Data.)

UPDATE: Billboard has now responded to 6ix9ine, with an article clarifying its Hot 100 processes in light his claims. Billboard notes:

  • (i) In the end, GOOBA attracted 55.3 million combined audio and video U.S. streams in the Hot 100 chart week to end of Thursday, May 14;
  • (ii) Billboard says it excludes streams from its Hot 100 calculations that “do not meet long-standing charting parameters, such as U.S.-based-only plays, minimum play length, excessive plays and lack of user verification”. It adds: “The 30 million streams that 6ix9ine said Billboard counted matches the included chart total for all video plays. That number is more than double any single-week video stream total for any song so far this year.”
  • (iii) As for 6ix9ine’s claim that 30,000 last-minute sales of Stuck With U were purchased on six credit cards, Billboard responds: “Billboard and Nielsen Music/MRC Data conducts audits on all sales reported with access to purchase-level detail, and works with data partners to recognize excessive bulk purchases and remove those units from the final sales total. All titles this week, as in every week, were put under the same scrutiny.”

6ix9ine explains that, according to numbers crunched by his team, GOOBA was streamed 50.3m times in the US in the Billboard Hot 100 chart week in question. He appears to suggest that 50.3m figure comes from Nielsen Music/MRC/Billboard itself.

However, he claims that, in terms of the Hot 100 chart, Billboard “only counted 31m”.

Adds 6ix9ine: “Billboard illegally disqualified 20m streams so [GOOBA] can drop down and the people who bought the No.1, which was Stuck With U, can go to No.1. ”

What MBW thinks may have happened here (although we don’t have much more to go on than 6ix9ine’s four-minute video): since May 2018, Billboard has counted on-demand streams via paid subscription accounts as a full Hot 100 chart ‘point’; plays on ad-supported services instead represent 2/3rds of a chart ‘point’; and programmed streams (on ‘lean-back’ radio-style streaming services) count as 1/2 a ‘point’.

These are then added together with digital downloads and radio airplay to determine the final Hot 100 chart.

According to trusted US market monitor Alpha Data, in its opening chart week (Friday, May 8 to Thursday May 14), GOOBA was streamed 54.17m times across the US, but 56.4% (30.55m) of these plays happened on video services such as YouTube.

These video streams (so long as they were on free platforms) would have counted towards the Billboard Hot 100, but only at 2/3rds of a premium stream ‘point’.

Yet if that suggests why GOOBA’s 50m-plus streams could have been ‘reduced’ to 30.1m by Billboard (and again, it’s just MBW’s guesswork), it doesn’t explain away a much more serious accusation from 6ix9ine.

The rapper claims that his team are conducting an ongoing investigation into Stuck With U’s performance on the Billboard Hot 100.

6ix9ine then alleges: “Last Thursday [someone working in the interests of] Stuck With U submitted 60,000 units last second [to Billboard]. With the investigation we found this: They purchased half of those [sales] with six credit cards.

“When we asked where those six credits cards were linked to, Billboard said, ‘We can’t disclose that information.’ Understand this; they bought 30,000 or so units with six credit cards. Six credit cards!”

“When we asked where those six credits cards were linked to, Billboard said, ‘We can’t disclose that information.’ Understand this; they bought 30,000 or so units with six credit cards. Six credit cards!”

Tekashi 6ix9ine

He adds: “Now I understand why Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj say… we know it’s all manipulated, you can buy No.1s. It’s not fair.”

It’s better that you understand that 6ix9ine is seething, generally, about this perceived wrongdoing, and that some of the basis for his accusations here aren’t exactly fully fleshed out. (He doesn’t explain at any stage what would be in it for Billboard even if they did deliberately demote his track, for example.)

But with wider industry discussions around chart transparency, chart-gaming, the use of stream farms and merch bundles etc. raging on, 6ix9ine’s accusations this week are unlikely to be ignored.

Perhaps wisely, legally speaking, 6ix9ine doesn’t point the finger at any one specific party on Ariana Grande’s team for perpetrating the alleged six-credit-card trick.

Frustratingly, though, he also doesn’t offer much solid evidence of his team’s “investigation” (aside from a slightly bizarre allegory about a red apple which we will spare you).

MBW has asked Billboard, as well as Ariana Grande’s management team (SB Projects) and record label (Republic Records) for comment.

To drill his point home, on the Instagram post accompanying his video, 6ixNine writes: “@BILLBOARD YOU’RE A LIE AND CORRUPT. YOU GOT CAUGHT CHEATING AND THE WORLD WILL KNOW.”

UPDATE: Subsequent to 6ix9ine’s post yesterday, Ariana Grande took to Instagram to respond. She wrote: “My fans bought the song. JUSTIN’S fans bought the song. OUR fans bought this song (never more than four copies each, AS THE RULES STATE). they are ride or die motherf–kers and i thank god every day that i have them in my life…sales count for more than streams. u can not discredit this as hard as u try. to anybody that is displeased with their placement on the chart this week or who is spending their time racking their brain thinking of as many ways as they can to discredit hardworking women (and only the women for some reason…..), i ask u to take a moment to humble yourself. be grateful you’re even here. that people want to listen to u at all. it’s a blessed position to be in.”

Justin Bieber also weighed in, with a more direct refuting of 6ix9ine’s claims. “He says his streams don’t count. Yes they do but he is counting his global streams and this is a domestic chart so only domestic streams count,” said Bieber.

“He said 30k was bought with 6 credit cards but that is a lie. The rules are clear one credit card can buy max 4 copies. Anything over that the entire amount gets thrown out.”

Justin Bieber

He added: “60,000 units came because we don’t disclose our numbers until end of week. That’s called strategy. He said 30k was bought with 6 credit cards but that is a lie. The rules are clear one credit card can buy max 4 copies. Anything over that the entire amount gets thrown out.

“Nielsen company checks this and found all our sales were legit because our fans are amazing and bought them. Don’t discredit our fan base with false info.

“This is my song with Ariana Grande and I’m honored to work with her to help raise money for a great cause. If you’re gonna say her name make sure you say mine because it’s our song.”Music Business Worldwide

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