Lil Kesh debuted his Y.A.G.I album on iTunes for digital downloads for almost a week before it was available for physical CD sales some time in the following week. This virtual release of the LP was heavily promoted and in the days that followed Lil Kesh made an update with a screenshot of his album topping Apple’s iTunes chart on his Instagram account with this caption: “Wow! #YAGI is fast selling. Now no.1 on Naija iTunes. Osheyyyyy! Pls go cop it now🙏🏾 #MrMeYagi #YBNL 🔥🔥🔥🔥”.
This, of course, is not the first time an artiste has gleefully informed the Nigerian public about what we suppose is an indication of how much music they are selling at the moment.
Notably many A-listers including Wizkid, Davido and Yemi Alade have repeated the same thing. But these updates have nothing to do with their artistry. Like their obsessive compulsion to make updates about their cars, houses and gold chains, this is another statistic celebrities relate to the public to increase the size of their already overblown egos.
Sadly for you fans and stans who have gobbled up these iTunes screenshots, we have news for you; your favourite artiste isn’t likely to have made any ground breaking sales.
According to ItunesCharts.net, nobody really knows how iTunes charts are calculated. While digital downloads via sales may be a notable index, it is only one of many indicators including promo, popularity, subscription, search engine results, reviews and page views which are used by algorithms on Apple’s servers to prepare the charts.
The charts are presented as by-the minute updates which means they are automated without human input leaving bots to handle the placement of albums and singles. There has also never been any confirmation from Apple indicating that a song on the top of the charts is currently the highest selling, even though it may seem very much like it.
It is very important to note that even in established music industries, sales figures are important for a reason. These metrics not only show how bankable the artiste is, they are also indicators of popularity and genre definition. And for some reason we cannot shake off the feeling that even Nigerian artistes know that topping the charts does not automatically translate to sales.
Alaba sales are nearly impossible to track thanks to artiste and marketer alliances that see artistes selling their music for Alaba boys’ payouts. This situation should make figures from digital sales and stream the next best thing. They are not only transparent, they are also easily retrievable.
If your favourite artiste is really selling as much as they claim, the screenshots we should be seeing on their updates should be of their iTunes back-end where the figures from Apple are stated.