Universal Music clarifies 'false claims' of Chinese artist's album taken off from iTunes

Universal Music Group China has defended Chinese rapper Kris Wu (pictured left) against false claims of his new album "Antares" being taken offline from US iTunes. In a statement on Weibo, the company said rumours of the album being taken offline are untrue and considered libel. It also labelled the spread of such false rumours a "violation" of the laws and rights protecting an individual's honour and reputation.

As such, it requests those who have posted false news of Wu to "immediately delete" those postings and stop spreading them. Netizens involved were also advised to take measures to ensure such false news would not spread further. If the false news is not deleted, Universal Music said it will pursue legal actions against the "malicious rumours" until the end. Universal Music also urged netizens to be responsible and not create or spread rumours.

These rumours come after fans of US singer Ariana Grande (pictured right) accused Wu of using bots and VPN to boost his chart performance on US iTunes. While Wu is popular in Asia, the rapper is still trying to make a name for himself in the North American market.

Upon launch, Wu's "Antares" album clinched the top album spot, outranking Ariana Grande's new single "Thank U, Next", and took up at least six spots in the top 10 songs on the US iTunes chart. The accusations also led to Wu's fans clashing with Grande's, with the former calling them out for being racist.

Meanwhile, Grande's manager, Scooter Braun, said in an Instagram post that Wu's album release was held back in China for his birthday and fans "went and got the music any way they could and that was US iTunes". He added that Wu's album has never been removed from the US iTunes charts. "That is false. Those were real people from the US and international community and not bots like many have rumoured," Braun added.

Nonetheless, Wu's album sales are currently under scrutiny. According to Variety, Billboard and Nielsen Music are working to ensure the "accuracy and legitimacy" of the sales volumes of "Antares". This will be done through Nielsen's variety of sources, including radio, streaming and retail, enabling both parties to confirm the accuracy of sales, playback information and highlight anomalies. Marketing has reached out to Apple and Nielsen Music for comment.