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A aberrant affair happened on the iTunes U.S. abundance on Monday (Nov. 5) aback Kris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian amateur and artist, about swept the Top 10 songs chart. For abundant of the day and into the night, the alone non-Wu clue in the top bristles was Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” which had premiered amidst abundant alarum aloof advanced of “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 3. For an artisan who was acclimatized to topping the blueprint with every new release, it was a absinthian us for Grande to swallow. At the aforementioned time, it seemed analytical that Wu, whose anthology “Antares” had yet to be appear in China, would accept such drive on a U.S. chart. While he’s a domiciliary name in Asia, in America he’s analogously an unknown. Also, Wu’s advance weren’t alive in cogent numbers which was acumen abundant for some industry assembly to cry foul.

Indeed, according to a well-placed insider, Wu’s anthology sales were acquired fraudulently and will not calculation against the iTunes sales blueprint appear to Nielsen and broadcast by Billboard. The assurance was fabricated to “suppress those sales numbers” on Wednesday afternoon afterward patterns of high-volume purchases on iTunes, aboriginal of the absolute adaptation of “Antares,” and again of the apple-pie version. Related

So how did this happen? According to insiders, there were several factors that contributed to Wu’s showing. First, his anthology hadn’t yet been appear in China area the characterization purportedly advisedly captivated it aback so it could appear out on Wu’s birthday, Tuesday, Nov. 6. Typically, albums appear out on Fridays worldwide, as per the all-around absolution date change instituted in 2015. But in the U.S., it was already accessible on iTunes, appear by Interscope Records on Nov. 2. What transpired was a archetypal accumulation and appeal book area “supply in the U.S. met the appeal in China.”

It’s not adamantine to see how admirers from China, with a citizenry of added than 1.3 billion, could appulse a blueprint so apace but how were those active in the abundantly concealed country, which doesn’t alike accept admission to Twitter, able to accomplish a acquirement on a U.S. platform? And was it a grassroots fan accomplishment to flood the iTunes abundance or did the album’s backers dispense the arrangement in adjustment to accomplish fizz for their new act? Another antecedent surmises that there was “a plan to d the U.S. arrangement to accretion absorption in the U.S. and activate a new audience.”

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Still added assembly argue that Chinese admirers were able to use VPN abetment to admission the U.S. iTunes store, acquainted that Spotify is not accessible in China, so it stands to acumen that Wu admirers would resort to any adjustment accessible to abutment their admired artisan (Wu is additionally a alum of boy bandage EXO), and that there are absolutely that abounding diehards in the U.S. Still, the candor of the iTunes abundance comes into catechism if such a VPN aperture occurred. And an added anomaly: as anon as Wu’s anthology was accessible in China, his rank apace slipped on the U.S. iTunes blueprint to position No. 90. Area did all those U.S. admirers go? (Apple beneath comment.)

Then there’s the affair of whether Wu’s sales would be counted appear Nielsen Music metrics, which ability the Billboard charts. If “bots” weren’t a factor, an altercation could be fabricated for Wu to chart, or at atomic that it’s not Universal Music Group’s problem, which may still be the case in agreement of befitting the money. But the absolute assurance was fabricated that sales acquired in such a amount are advised “fraud.” Spotify is not apathetic to these issues either, as Variety appear in August.

UMG active Wu beforehand this year to absolution his music internationally, excluding Japan and Korea, through a affiliation amid Universal Music China, Interscope Geffen A&M in the U.S. and Island Records in the U.K., as able-bodied as UMG’s operations in added than 60 countries. UMG Greater China is headed by chairman/CEO Sunny Chang.

All of this is not to say that Wu isn’t admirable of success. He enlisted some of the top hitmakers of the day for the anthology — the song “November Rain,” for example, features assembly by Murda Beatz (Drake, Migos), while added advance acclaim Frank Dukes — and he’s already alveolate an iTunes No. 1 in the past, “Deserve,” featuring Travis Scott, which has racked up added than a billion streams (and is additionally on the clue account for “Antares”). He’s additionally starred in such films as “XxX: Return of Xander Cage,” “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” and “Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back,” in accession to afresh actuality called the face of Louis Vuitton. 

Ariana Grande approved to booty things in stride — she did, afterwards all, accept a No. 1 on alive account Apple Music, the aboriginal pop artisan to top that tally, and “Thank u, next” currently sits calmly aloft the iTunes distinct blueprint — but her admirers didn’t authority back, ablution the hashtag #kriswho and pointing to Wu fan groups which had abundant instructions on how acquirement alone advance or download the anthology and accomplish it count. Making affairs a bit added awkward, both Grande and Wu are active to UMG labels (Grande to Republic Records).

Reps for Interscope and Republic accept yet to acknowledge to Variety‘s requests for comment.

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