Universal Music China released a statement Wednesday amid claims Chinese-Canadian star Kris Wu had dominated the iTunes charts through fraudulent means.
Ariana Grande fans speculated that Wu had been using bots to bag the top seven song rankings after he managed to block Grande from the No. 1 spot with her latest single “thank u, next”.
Wu, who signed a global deal with Universal back in April, is said to have had relatively low streaming figures with his album Antares, which was released Friday, despite his success in the charts.
This immediately raised eyebrows in the music industry, with many linking Grande’s manager Scooter Braun to the bot claims after he insisted they’d “handle it” in a now-deleted tweet.
Grande then liked the following tweet, causing more of a frenzy online:
Braun has since shared a lengthy statement on Instagram, insisting he’d spoken to Wu and sorted out any differences. However, that didn’t stop Wu’s fans from bombarding the music mogul with hate mail on social media.
Universal Music China also confirmed that the chart performance of Antares was “genuine and effective,” according to Sixth Tone.
Braun’s message included, “It was explained to he [Wu] and I last night that because his release was held back in China for his birthday his fans went and got the music any way they could and that was US iTunes.
“Once the release in China took place the fans had their access. He has never been removed from the charts on iTunes. That is false. Those were real people from the US and international community and not bots like many have rumoured.”
See his full post below:
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Over the past few days I have become aware of an artist named @kriswu. Last night we had an opportunity to connect and talk and show respect. We learned of eachother since many rumors have come out about both us in connection to his newest release. Kris is a great artist who on a global scale is a star. It was explained to he and I last night that because his release was held back in China for his birthday his fans went and got the music any way they could and that was US Itunes. Once the release in China took place the fans had their access. He has never been removed from the charts on iTunes. That is false. I have never wished anything bad for Kris nor any other artist and those saying otherwise are wrong. Any fans of anyone I manage who are using this opportunity to spread any sort of division or racism are dead wrong and I won’t stand for it. The music community is international and no longer held by borders. Kris happy birthday and you showed yourself to be a global star. Glad we got to connect and speak and keep your head held high. This is just the first of many achievements for you. And for those using my name for false rumors now you know exactly where I stand. Keep it positive.
Nielsen, as Billboard‘s data provider, added in a statement: “Billboard and Nielsen Music are working closely to ensure both the accuracy and legitimacy of the sales volumes being reported for Kris Wu this week. We capture data from a number of sources, including streaming, radio and retail, allowing us to validate the accuracy of sales and playback information as well as identify anomalies.
“As we do with all reports when irregularities are noticed during the normal weekly validation process, we work closely with our partners to address the issue, which may result in excluding any irregular or excessive sales patterns, prior to charts being finalized.”
On Saturday, Wu joked about the controversy on Twitter: