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Russ Calls Out Billboard and Luminate for Manipulating Album Sales

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Russ Accuses Major Labels of Faking Streams to Inflate Chart Positions 

Russ has reacted to the seemingly underwhelming album sales and chart position of his latest album Santiago. Debuting at the modest No. 12 slot on the Billboard 200, the album managed to amass approximately 42,000 equivalent album units in its opening week. However, Russ’s dissatisfaction with this outcome is palpable, as he openly questions the authenticity of these figures.

In response to a tweet from Chart Data that announced the album’s chart entry, Russ, 30, didn’t hold back in shedding light on what he sees as the manipulation of sales and statistics by entities like Billboard and Luminate.

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“Billboard & Luminate took away ANOTHER 4,000 of my REAL sales over the weekend making that 10,000 sales total they took away from me while allowing major labels to fake their streams and sales and do monopolistic merch bundles (only major labels are allowed to do merch bundles because the only approved vendor is a major label vendor).”

His convictions were mirrored by his manager, Milan, who emerged from a Twitter hiatus to assert that major labels resort to streaming farms to inflate artist streams, ultimately questioning the integrity of the charts themselves.

“Major labels are hiding their fake streams (streaming farms) in plain sight and no one is stopping them,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Some of the artists on these labels aren’t even aware that their streams are inflated, until it’s time for those artists to sell “hard tickets”. At which point the numbers don’t add up. It’s time to verify streams & sales data on-chain.”

Milan delved further into his exposé, raising questions about the data verification process within the industry. 

“The current music “charts” are inflated by fake data and that data is being verified by one company only. That same company that verifies the data is owned by the same company that owns the “charts”. It’s a rigged game.”

Russ, in a subsequent tweet, expressed his disbelief at the situation, highlighting how the same company that verifies the data also owns the charts,

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“I don’t think y’all realize how nuts this is…Billboard charts are inflated by fake data which is being verified by only one company, Luminate. Both Billboard & Luminate are owned by the same company [facepalm emoji],” he wrote. 

Fans chimed in, drawing connections between Russ’s claims and recent tour cancellations by artists who seemingly chart well but struggle to sell tickets. Fellow rapper 6LACK also weighed in, saying, “they changing the rules every new business week.”

Russ’s latest album, “Santiago,” released on August 18, comprises 13 tracks and features collaborations with Justin Nozuka, Rexx Life Raj, and Bibi Bourelly. In a social media post, he explained the concept of the album. 

“I’m really excited. I’m really nervous. SANTIAGO is my journey to self love & self mastery while touching on the obstacles that have provided resistance along the way…feelings of emptiness, inadequacy, imposter syndrome, doubt, anger, shame (to name a few) and ultimately issues from my childhood that have shown up in my adult life. It’s my attempt to understand, navigate and heal. It’s the most vulnerable music l’ve ever made and I had to do a lot of excavating to make it. I hope that by listening to me face my own emotions, you all gain the courage to face your own. It was a confronting experience and I hope it resonates with people who are trying to navigate the obstacles on their own journey because as Paulo Coelho said, ‘one man’s journey is every man’s journey.’”

He also explained the album’s cover art, which he says “represents my mental, spiritual, physical and emotional journey to my treasure.” 

See Russ’ full tweets below. 

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