Jay-Z's "Magna Carta...Holy Grail" set a record for most streaming activity on Spotify in the United States. The album's songs were streamed over 14 million times in the United States during its first week of release. It also had the biggest single day for an album.
"Magna Carta" debuted atop the Billboard 200 album chart with first-week sales of 527,000, the second-biggest debut of the year behind Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience."
Spotify rarely releases internal numbers but on occasion has shared record first-week activity of albums that also debuted at the top of Billboard's album chart. In data and public statements, the company tries to quell any notions that streaming cannibalizes sales -- a fearful notion that has taken root in the music industry in spite of a lack of macro evidence.
"Magna Carta...Holy Grail," which sold 527,000 units last week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, bested first-week debuts by two other albums that also debuted at the top of the album chart. In May, Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" set the single-week streaming record, although Spotify did not release numbers. The prior record of eight million streams was set by Mumford and Sons' "Babel" in October. "Random Access Memories" sold 339,000 units in its debut week. "Babel" sold 600,000.
Earlier this week, a debate concerning Spotify's payouts to artists ensued after artist and producer Nigel Godrich removed his band's work from the streaming service and sent out a flurry of disparaging tweets, which prompted Spotify CEO Daniel EK and the company itself to respond.
Jay-Z's first-week sales and streams were undoubtedly helped by the publicity surrounding Samsung's involvement in the album's release. The South Korean company gave away, free of charge, one million album downloads via a smartphone app. The album was released via the app on July 4th, four days before the album's July 8th street date. The promotion was announced in a commercial during the NBA finals in mid-June. The album's give away by Samsung were not counted on the Billboard charts.