Regular-Ass Physical Sales Got Jack White to the Top of the Billboard 200

Jack "The Vinyl Lover"™ White sold 121,000 CD and vinyl copies of 'Boarding House Reach,' breaking streaming's hold on the chart.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB

Over the weekend, Jack White claimed the top spot of the Billboard 200 with his newest album Boarding House Reach. It's a strange record—which sort of proves what I will call the Arcade Fire Metric (that is, the concept that rock artists can get so big that it literally doesn't matter if you release an album that's just 13 songs of rain sounds and/or ill-informed sarcasm about technology: you'll still sell a bunch, and your tour will be extremely well attended)—but White has diehard fans, who saw him to chart victory.


In news that won't be particularly surprising, White achieved his number one position on the Billboard 200 mostly via physical sales. He sold 121,000 copies of Boarding House Reach (27,000 of which were, of course, vinyl sales), and some of which came from a concert ticket bundle. His streaming numbers were comparatively low, as the New York Times points out: just 4.2 million song streams. It sounds like a lot, but in context it's peanuts—last week's number one album, XXXTentation's ?, received 159 million streams, though sold just 20,000 physical copies.

Of course, streaming rules the roost these days, but that makes it even more interesting when an artist like White manages to break through on physical sales. White is a well-known connoisseur of music as a physical product (like, he's the guy who developed a vinyl which creates a hologram when it plays), and many fans have latched onto his approach of making that product something special and worth owning—plus, even if we're not collectors, most of us will still remember the pre-online feeling of going to buy a record, whether vinyl, tape, or CD, and it's a pretty special thing, right?

And though for some, White's "traditional" attitude sometimes goes a bit far (like when he made people lock their phones away at his shows so they could "experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON"—caps White's team's own), it is nice to know that physical sales still have some clout.

Follow Noisey on Twitter.