The real story of Drake, Spotify, Apple Music and the record-breaking streams of Scorpion

If you’re an avid watcher of music business goings-on, you won’t have been able to escape Drake over the past fortnight – not least on Spotify, where the megastar’s ‘takeover’ of the service’s playlists has caused much debate.

Drake released his latest album, the 25-track set Scorpion, on June 29 – and it tore up the history books.

MBW previously revealed that the LP broke day one records on both Apple Music and Spotify, with Apple claiming a bigger share of global streams in the record’s opening 24 hours (170m vs. circa 132m).

But now we know exactly what happened to Scorpion during its opening seven days on each platform, both in the US and worldwide.

These numbers tell their own story of a fierce battle between the globe’s two biggest audio streaming services – and their mutual attempts to dominate market share of the industry’s most important music releases.

MBW has verified two sets of figures, with multiple high-level industry sources, regarding Scorpion’s week-one performance on Spotify and Apple Music.

We understand these numbers are being used internally at Drake’s label group – Cash Money/Republic/Universal – although a spokesperson for Republic declined to comment.

Here goes.

In Scorpion’s first seven days of availability, the album’s tracks were streamed 573m times globally on Spotify.

That was slightly bigger than the week-one worldwide number we’ve been told for Apple Music, which stood at 486m streams.

Both of these numbers represented a record-breaking performance: the previous global week-one best performance on Spotify, for example, was Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys, with 411.82m worldwide streams (announced in May this year).

Considering that, at the end of Q1, Spotify had 170m active users worldwide, with 75m paying subscribers, it’s no great surprise to see the green machine out in front with Scorpion on a global basis.

(Apple Music is believed to currently have around 45m paying subscribers, not including trialists.)

Another good stat: today (July 12), Drake officially has 58.95m monthly listeners on Spotify; that is more than Apple’s entire worldwide subscriber base.

A few days ago, Drake confirmed that Scorpion was streamed over a billion times worldwide in its opening week.

According to MBW’s numbers, 1.06bn of these plays came on Spotify and Apple Music alone.

Yet where these figures get really intriguing is when we drill down into Scorpion’s specific performance in the United States.

MBW is told that, in the US alone, Scorpion racked up 321m streams on Spotify in its first seven days.

That was another record for the Swedish platform, again overtaking Beerbongs & Bentleys – which recorded 236.5m week-one streams in the States.

On Apple Music, however, Scorpion went gangbusters – attracting a massive 401m streams in the US in its debut week.

That meant Apple was a solid 80m plays ahead of Spotify’s week-one US number – equivalent to an additional 10m+ streams each day.

Let’s break these numbers down a little more.

According to the Financial Times, Apple Music’s US subscriber base currently sits just above 21m paying customers; Spotify’s, we’re told, is just above 22m.

Looking at Apple Music’s week-one US Scorpion numbers shows us that – approximately speaking – the average Apple Music subscriber each played a track from Drake’s new album 19 times during its opening week on the Stateside market.

That’s pretty unprecedented, and speaks to the impressive per-head consumption Apple is enjoying amongst hip-hop fans in the States, following further success with the likes of J Cole’s KOD and Drake’s own More Life over the past year.

In fact, the 401m US-based streams of Scorpion on Apple Music in week one represented 82.5% of the album’s total global streams on the service.

Spotify, then, with its free tier advantage and 170m+ active user base, remains king of the world.

But the battle for the United States is now really hotting up.

As shown by its surprising over-performance on Scorpion in the States, Apple Music has some real momentum behind it.

(MBW should point out that, according to one source, Apple’s internal numbers on Scorpion’s global performance differ slightly from those being used by labels/publishers etc. These increase the album’s worldwide week-one number on the service by around 12m streams to approximately 498m.)Music Business Worldwide

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