Watch The Throne: The Day After

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The hotly anticipated Watch the Throne dropped on iTunes yesterday at midnight, and the entertainment world has been abuzz about the Jay-Z-Kanye West project for the not-yet-thirty-six hours since. Here’s what’s on everyone’s minds, lips, Twitter accounts, and RSS feeds:

Sales: According to Billboard, industry sources project that Watch The Throne will sell upwards of 500,000 copies (an upward revision from yesterday’s 400K-500K estimate). At the same time, the album has dropped to #9 on the iTunes Charts, suggesting that a majority of this week’s digital numbers will be first-day sales. (It’s also more expensive on iTunes than it will be at Best Buy, which the Los Angeles Times is calling an “iTunes tax.”)

Critical Reaction: We’ve seen the first album reviews—notably Jon Caramanica‘s, for the New York Times—plus plenty more pre-reviews from folks who want to weigh in first without it being the last word, whether for the sake of humor (viz. ego trip’s haikus), concision and introduction (Rolling Stone‘s track-by-track breakdown), or merely the beginning of a longer conversation (NPR’s email volleys). Meanwhile Twitter debate has raged nonstop regarding the album’s merits. To dive in, simply search for #WTT, or start with Questlove, who really likes it, or Elliott Wilson, who’s been retweeting everybody’s opinions.

Leak Avoidance: One big topic of conversation, with all eyes on the duo and their album, is their success at keeping the album under wraps until its release date (despite what the person who hacked the Twitter account of producer Mike Dean today might say). Interventions at a combination of levels led to this result: recording (everything was done in-studio, never over email, as Andy Hutchins noted at Sound of the City), distribution (the album got a digital-first release to prevent pressing-plant leaks); and media (the album was played at listening parties to avoid issuing promo copies, and when one attendee leaked snippets the rest of the press stood in solidarity with the artists, not the leaker). To an extent, these feats are only replicable at this type of scale (cf. Radiohead’s tactic for In Rainbows), but in other ways they may influence the production, and especially post-production, of records in the future.

[Image: Getty Images]

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