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Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’ Set for Record Sales Debut

Ariana Grande's "Problem," featuring Iggy Azalea, is on track to score one of the biggest sales debuts ever for a digital song.

Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” featuring Iggy Azalea, is on track to score one of the biggest sales debuts ever for a digital song.

Industry forecasters suggest the tune may have sold more than 425,000 downloads in the week ending May 4. That would immediately place it among the top 10 biggest sales debuts ever, and perhaps the fourth-largest bow for a woman.

Its official sales figure, as compiled by Nielsen SoundScan, will be announced on Wednesday, May 7.

The largest ever debut for a song, according to SoundScan, was when Flo Rida’s “Right Round” bowed with 636,000 downloads in the week ending Feb. 15, 2009. (SoundScan began tracking downloads in the summer of 2003, shortly after Apple’s iTunes Music Store launched on April 28 of that year.)


“Problem” could also earn the 20-year old Grande the fourth-largest start for a woman, behind the launches of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (623,000), Katy Perry’s “Roar” (557,000) and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” (448,000). “Roar” is also the last song, overall, to have debuted with more than 400,000 downloads.

Further, Grande — at 20-years old — will become the youngest woman to debut with more than 400,000 downloads. 

“Problem” is the first single from Grande’s upcoming second album, which is due out in either August or September. The song was commercially released on Monday, April 28.


“Problem” is also on course for a striking top 10 debut on the Billboard Hot 100. That arrival will be owed largely to its presumed monster sales debut, but it has also seen a handsome start in terms of both airplay and streams. (The Hot 100 blends sales, airplay and streaming data to rank the most popular songs of the week.)

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While “Problem” will likely fall short of debuting on the 50-position all-format Radio Songs chart, it should collect between 15-20 million in radio audience, according to Nielsen BDS, through the week ending Tuesday, May 6.

In addition, with streaming data available through May 2, “Problem” looks like it could make a top 20 debut on the Streaming Songs chart. In racked up more than 2.8 million streams in the week ending May 2 — about evenly split between on-demand services and YouTube/Vevo on YouTube.

Highlights of the Hot 100, Radio Songs and Streaming Songs chart will post on Wednesday (May 7), while the charts in full will be revealed on Thursday.

“Problem” would grant Grande her second top 10 single on the Hot 100, following “The Way.” That track, which debuted at No. 10 and peaked at No. 9, was the lead-off single from her debut set “Yours Truly.” The latter debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last year, and has sold 423,000 according to SoundScan.

– Additional reporting by Gary Trust and William Gruger, New York