Troy Ave's 'Major Without a Deal' First-Week Sales, Explained

Scott Roth/Invision/AP
Troy Ave performs at Christmas in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, in Brooklyn, New York. 

The rapper's sales debut has been widely mocked on Twitter, but the album was rushed to digital retailers due to his Summer Jam performance.

Major Without a Deal, the new album from Brooklyn rapper Troy Ave, was released last week, and its perceived lack of sales has caused something of a social media uproar. On Thursday (June 11), "Troy Ave" began trending worldwide on Twitter, thanks to reports that the rapper's latest LP sold less than 5,000 copies in its debut sales week, including 30 physical CDs, despite including guest features from Rick Ross, Jeezy, Ty Dolla $ign and A$AP Ferg, among others.
 
Troy Ave (real name: Roland Collins) tweeted on Tuesday (June 9) that hard copies of Major Without a Deal had been "selling the f-- out in Best Buy." That claim, coupled with reports of poor physical sales, resulted in the creation of various Twitter memes and other forms of social media mockery.
 


So what's really going on with these Troy Ave reports? Major Without a Deal, released on the independent label BSB Records through a distribution deal with EMPIRE Distribution, did sell 4,000 copies in the week ending June 7, according to Nielsen Music, but the album was released as a digital-only title in its first week. The album was first released exclusively through digital retailers on Friday, June 5, and thus only had three days of sales supporting its initial sales week. (Most albums are released on Tuesday, and thus earn six days of sales in their debut chart week.)
 
Further, the physical version of Major Without a Deal was not released until Tuesday, June 9 -- two days after the most recent tracking week ended. Any CD copies of the album that were sold in the week ending June 7 (it was indeed a negligible figure) were CDs sold by retailers who ignored the physical CD's street date, and opted to sell the CD early. These sales are often referred to as "street date violation" sales.

Based on its first three days of digital-only sales, Major Without a Deal launches at No. 2 on the Heatseekers Albums chart, No. 13 on Rap Albums, No. 14 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 14 on Independent Albums. The album's second chart week -- reflecting its sales in the week ending June 14 -- will be its first full week of digital sales and CD sales.

A representative for EMPIRE Recordings/Distribution tells Billboard that Major Without a Deal was released as a digital-only album last Friday due to Troy Ave's performance at Hot 97 Summer Jam on Sunday, June 7 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. "Troy Ave had a big performance at NYC's HOT 97 Summer Jam on Sunday, June 7th and wanted his fans to be able to get the album prior to that show," the EMPIRE rep explains. "Thus, we released the digital version on June 5th and then on June 9th, the physical copies were released."

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As noted earlier, any physical sales reported in the album's debut chart week -- i.e., that "30 CDs" line floating around Twitter -- were from street date violations. Starting Tuesday, June 9, the day Troy Ave tweeted about the album selling out, Major Without a Deal became available at big box retailers, including at Best Buy.
 
Troy Ave's previous album, New York City, has sold a total of 6,000 copies since its 2013 release, according to Nielsen Music, and hit No. 47 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The rapper has previously claimed 10 entries on the Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart, including the No. 1 "All About the Money," featuring Yung Lito and Manolo Rose. However, Troy Ave has yet to chart a single on any of Billboard's other singles or airplay charts.  
 
(Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield and Alex Vitoulis)