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Album Sales: “Empire” Holding Up Better Than Madonna’s “Rebel Heart”

Last week’s album sales race reintroduced the new Billboard 200 methodology to the spotlight.

While Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” was the week’s best selling album, “Empire” leveraged its significantly greater number of track sales and streams to rank as #1 on the revamped Billboard 200.

Designed to reflect total consumption, that chart now ranks albums based on the sum of their pure sales, track equivalent albums (10 single sales = 1 album sale) and streaming equivalent albums (1500 single streams = 1 album sale).

As a result, the number one album is not necessarily the one that scored the greatest number of traditional weekly sales.

Madonna’s “Rebel Heart”–and Madonna’s fans–learned that the hard way. “Rebel Heart” moved 116,000 traditional copies in its first week, while the “Empire” soundtrack only moved 110,000.

With the aforementioned TEA and SEA data added to the mix, however, “Empire” claimed a comfortably greater number of total consumption units. Its first week unit total of 130,000 bested the 121,000 for “Rebel Heart.” It thus landed at #1 on the Billboard 200.

“Empire” will again land higher than “Rebel Heart” on the Billboard 200. And when it does so this week, it will not leave any room for a debate over methodology.

Hits Daily Double says that the “Empire” soundtrack is on track for a second week pure sales total of 60-65,000. Its second week consumption total will land in the 80-85,000 range and be enough for a #2 position on the BB200 (behind Kendrick Lamar’s new “To Pimp a Butterfly”).

Madonna’s “Rebel Heart,” meanwhile, will fall out of the competitive mix. Per Hits’ projections, “Rebel Heart” is not expected to claim one of the week’s Top 15 consumption totals.

The week’s #15 album is expected to post a unit total of 28-32,000, which means Madonna’s album is tracking to fall short of that mark. And if it will not even claim a consumption total in excess of 30,000, it stands no chance of competing with the “Empire” soundtrack’s 60-65,000 pure sales total.

By dominating the second week race, the “Empire” soundtrack assures its cumulative pure sales mark will close the 6,000 gap and surpass that of “Rebel Heart.” After two weeks, it will be the hotter album — in terms of sales and consumption.

Written by Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002.

Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]


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