Current projections have Kenny Chesney and Drake in a neck-and-neck battle for the #1 album in the country, but a closer look at the numbers tells a much different story.
Hits Daily Double reports that the race for #1 is “too close to call” between Chesney‘s ‘Here and Now’ and Drake‘s surprise mixtape, ‘Dark Lane Demo Tapes,’ as Drake is projected to move 230-255k units (18-23k pure sales) while Chesney is just slightly behind with 220-235k (210-220k pure sales). Notably, however, HDD points out that Chesney is utilizing a ticket bundle offer to boast his pure sales which makes up for the majority of his chart activity.
By bundling an album with concert tickets, fans who buy tickets for a show are automatically sent a digital copy of the artist’s new album. If the concert-goer opts to redeem the album offer, this “purchase” is then counted as a sale and will therefore be factored into the project’s performance on the Billboard 200. The practice has proved controversial among chart-watchers for years who argue that artists are essentially giving away free copies of an album with their ticket and calling it a sale.
The strategy is even more bewildering given the COVID-19 landscape we face, one in which live events are predicted to be cancelled for the remainder of the year and perhaps even into 2021. How is it possible for Chesney to beat Drake by selling summer concert tickets that may very well be refunded in the next few weeks?
Chesney has yet to postpone his summer tour dates from May 30th onward, which is likely why he’s still benefitting from the ticket bundle offer. It’s unclear what percentage of Chesney‘s sales are comprised of ticket bundles, but considering his reputation as a touring artist, it’s probably enough to make the difference between a #1 and #2 debut on the Billboard 200.
Billboard has yet to address this COVID-19 wrinkle in their calculations. Recently, The Weeknd also went #1 on The Billboard 200 with ‘After Hours’ thanks to an album redemption offer for his tour that’s yet to be postponed. Like The Weeknd, we can assume that Chesney is holding off on cancelling his tour dates until he can get the most chart points possible with concert bundles.
Billboard is not known for going back on their numbers, meaning ‘Here And Now’ will likely keep its #1 debut even if concert-goers request refunds for tour dates. Ticketmaster and Live Nation recently enacted a new policy that will allow people to get money back for their tickets or gain credit for future concerts.
Even if fans still manage to attend Chesney‘s shows this summer, it shouldn’t take away from the larger argument on the ethics of ticket bundling moving forward. Check out more of our thoughts on the practice and how it could affect album promotion strategies moving forward here.
Do you think it’s fair that Chesney is still bundling ticket sales despite the projected concert cancellations? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @PopCrave!