Russ, a long-time advocate for independent music artists, recently voiced his concerns about the first-week sales of his latest album, Santiago. He claimed that Billboard and music data provider Luminate unfairly discounted several thousand sales of his album, preventing him from securing a top-ten spot on the Billboard 200 chart.
Russ alleged that Billboard and Luminate removed 4,000 of his real sales over the weekend, totaling 10,000 sales that were taken away from him. He also accused major labels of faking their streams and sales and monopolizing merch bundles. According to Russ, only major labels are allowed to do merch bundles because the only approved vendor is a major label vendor.
Despite his grievances, Russ ended his statement on a positive note, reminding his followers that while numbers and charts can be manipulated, the impact they have is real. He also took the opportunity to thank his fans for their support.
Last week, Hits Daily Double projected that Russ would sell around 52,000 units, a significant figure for an independent artist without the backing of a major label. This projection would have placed him in the top 10, just behind Taylor Swift and Hozier.
However, these projections are just educated guesses based on available data and trends, and there’s no guarantee of their accuracy. Russ also pointed out the unfairness of counting sales from only specific retail avenues.
Billboard has previously faced criticism from other major artists for its handling of merch bundles. The publication changed its rules regarding this issue, which led to further backlash from different artists. As it stands, no accounting system is perfect and there will always be artists who feel shortchanged if they don’t meet their own expectations.
Meanwhile, Coi Leray recently dismissed the importance of first-week sales, choosing instead to focus on her continued impact and the joy of living her dream and connecting with fans through her music.