This summer, Billboard introduced new rules intended to discourage artists from bundling free digital albums with merchandise to inflate sales numbers. At first, it looked like this would hurt artists like Travis Scott the most, because he has a large group of fans who want to get their hands on any piece of physical good he sells (even McNugget body pillows). Looking at the first-week numbers for "Franchise," though, it seems Travis' team has come up with a new plan. As reported by Billboard, here's a breakdown of the song's consumption so far: "'Franchise' opens with 19.4 million U.S. streams and 98,000 sold (58,000 on cassette and CD; 40,000 digital downloads) in its first week."

Read those numbers again. 58,000 people purchased a cassette tape or a CD. Let me say that one more time. 58,000 people purchased a cassette tape or a CD that had only one song on it in the year 2020. That's incredible. Travis knows his fans loyally purchase cool products, so he commissioned George Condo to create eye-catching artwork and sold reasonably affordable CDs for $6 each and cassettes for $8 each, as collector's items. He knew most of his fans aren't going to play these cassettes. The majority of them don't even have cassette players! But he knew they would want a physical piece of the song that they could hold in their hands as a collector's item. And he knew that it would count towards his sales totals. It worked, and he topped the charts. Of course, not everyone has a fan base like Travis Scott's, and not everyone creates products that are as desirable (and resellable) as he does. But at a time when artists are trying to figure out ways to replace the old merch bundling model, this might be a trend we see a lot more in the months to come.