On Friday (April 29), Beyonce’s Lemonade became the biggest album of the year so far in the US.
Within another 24 hours, Drake’s Views had surpassed Lemonade’s entire week-one album download figure, with around 600,000 sales.
Views is now easily on course to smash through a million North American sales before the weekend.
Drake and his team will have breathed a big sigh of relief at this news – early vindication for a digital strategy which was by no means a safe bet.
Aside from its status as one of the most eagerly anticipated records of the year, Views (previously ‘Views From The 6’), is a complete Apple exclusive.
In its first week, it’s available to stream on Apple Music and buy on iTunes, but not available anywhere else – including physical stores.
Significantly, fans can’t ‘un-bundle’ Views on iTunes, as they could with Beyonce’s Lemonade last week; they only have the option to buy it as one package, with the exception of recent singles One Dance and Hotline Bling.
Drake took a sizable risk with this approach.
Last year, the Canadian rapper was Spotify’s biggest artist – being listened to by 46m people on the platform across 2015.
Wait for it. That means approximately half of all Spotify’s active worldwide users are Drake listeners.
The star just openly snubbed them for an exclusive Apple release – one rumoured to be part of a $19m agreement signed last summer.
According to label sources in the US, Views sold 600,000 on iTunes US alone in its opening 24 hours – and shifted around 630,000 album equivalents when streaming and song sales were folded in.
Views is selling for $13.99 in the US market on iTunes, meaning that it would have turned over around $8.4m worth of business on Friday alone.
These numbers track slightly ahead of data from trusted market monitor BuzzAngle, which estimates that Views sold 582,289 album equivalents on Friday.
574,604 sales within this number were ‘pure’ album downloads on iTunes, while an additional 48,188 song sales and 4.3m streams have been factored in.
(BuzzAngle uses a formula of 1,500 streams – or ten track purchases – to one album equivalent.)
According to the most recent figures, Views surpassed 740,000 album equivalent sales in the US in its first two days on sale (29/4 & 30/4), with another 80k sales in Canada.
Where this gets particularly interesting is when we compare Views early performance breakdown to Beyonce’s latest album.
BuzzAngle data gave Lemonade a week-one total of 656,484 album equivalents in the US market – made up of 489K album downloads, 908K song sales and 115.5M streams.
The obvious headline stat: Drake’s Views sold more copies on iTunes in its opening day in the US (575k) than Lemonade managed in a week (489k).
But that certainly doesn’t tell the full story of two key releases with significantly differing approaches.
UPDATE: MBW now understands that Drake’s 4.3m day one streaming figure from BuzzAngle does NOT include his Apple Music streams – it’s just comprised from plays of his available singles from Spotify and other services after the release of Views. Sources tell us that Views enjoyed over 50m streams on Apple Music across its first 24 hours, and more than 85m in its first two days.
Streaming-wise, Drake’s miles behind: Lemonade enjoyed 115.5m streams on TIDAL last week, while Views clocked up just 4.3m in its opening day.
This is further proof of just how much of a landmark moment Lemonade was for TIDAL and its majority owner, Jay Z – especially as the album didn’t even arrive on iTunes until 24 hours of TIDAL exclusivity had passed.
According to MBW calculations, Lemonade (with its premium $17.99 iTunes price point) would have made around $8.8m from full US album downloads last week.
Its other income streams were also significant, however, with track downloads bringing in a further $1.2m and TIDAL (wholesale) contributing between $2m-$3m.
The industry chatter around Drake’s Views has understandably focused on the fact that the star locked in an Apple one-week exclusive – and blackballed Spotify.
But, so far, the album’s success is actually much less about streaming than it is old-fashioned album downloads.
So, did Drake’s Spotify snub drive his streaming fans to buy the album online?
Or has he actually harmed his chances of reaching these 46m+ listeners on Daniel Ek’s platform?
The evidence can be sliced to support either theory.
(Remember that, in addition to locking streaming to Apple, Drake is essentially forcing those fans who are willing to buy iTunes album tracks to purchase the whole LP – a big roll of the dice in itself.)
The debate will rumble on.
On new track Weston Road Flows, Drake sums up his own confidence by knocking a rival star’s sales figures:
“I’m looking at their first week numbers like, ‘What are those?’ I mean you boys not even coming close.”
As shown this week, he has a point.
Whatever you might think of his release strategy, Drake has plenty of cause not to listen to anyone’s Views but his own.Music Business Worldwide