Kanye West


Does it really matter that Kanye West's album was "banned" from Walmart? Will he have to do more concerts or appearance to make up for the loss?
—BananasVL, via the inbox

Alas, our favorite megalomaniac Kanye West may have to sacrifice some projects, for example, that fleet of 600 rockets that was supposed to crash into the moon in the exact pattern of his face.

But will he really go poor because Walmart deemed the cover of his latest album too racy for store shelves? I have the numbers:

And they're actually kind of surprising. Not because Kanye might go poor. He will not go poor.

Surprising because there are still more people buying albums—not singles, mind you, albums—via stores and other outlets, rather than digitally.

Jim Dinio, president of NARM, the music business association, tells me that when it comes to full album sales, about 28 percent comes from digital downloads.

"The balance, about 72 percent, is still physical albums," Dinio tells me. Now, those albums are bought in all kinds of places, but you can bet that big box stores like Walmart account for a significant chunk.

Kayne West

In fact, let's drill down a little more on that. Per Dinio, who cited stats from Nielsen Soundscan, mass merchandisers like Walmart account for about 32 percent of all album sales.

Will that equate a dip in income for West? Maybe. But more likely not. For one, in very general terms, brick-and-mortal album sales are more often the choice of older consumers, a demographic that doesn't necessarily mesh with West's core audience.

And we know that West fans are very digital people. In fact, in the United States, West's single "Power," once set a record for weekly sales in the digital space.

Now, do album covers affect who buys what via digital download?

No. No they do not, even if they feature a grinning chupacabra with wings and a leopard tail straddling Kanye on a couch.

If you're still concerned about West's future, one final chunk o' data: West's net worth is said to hover somewhere around $70 million.

So you tell me: Does this man need Walmart?

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