Drake‘s heavily-promoted fourth studio album Views has apparently lived up to the hype and sold over one million copies in its first week. But this study is calling the numbers into question.
It should be noted that Views debuted as an Apple Music exclusive its first week out and just became available in CD form and on other streaming platforms on Friday, May 6. So for it move over one million units in just that time alone is quite impressive. However, Stereogum is not believing the hype.
Writer Michael Nelson points out that Drake’s recording home, Republic Records, issued a statement claiming, “The album, including digital tracks and streaming album equivalents, has crossed the 1 million mark in U.S. sales and nearly 1.2 million globally, and is expected to bow at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 in North America.” The album also amassed over 250 million streams.
Remember, up until May 6 the album was only available through Apple Music, meaning that you could either stream it there or buy it via iTunes. In case you missed the memo, streams and Youtube views are now being counted towards an album’s sales. In February, the RIAA skewed their certification methods to allow 1,500 streams to equal 10 single track sales or one album sale.
Nelson uses a recent Forbes article to assert that Drake and company may be playing with with loaded dice. The inclusion of Drake’s biggest single ever, “Hotline Bling” which was released last year, onto the Views tracklisting all but guaranteed that the album would at least go multi-platinum.
Views‘ tracklisting truly games the revised RIAA gold and platinum system by exploiting how the organization now factors in the streaming performance of pre-release songs following an album’s release. On just Spotify alone, recently released singles “One Dance” and “Pop Style” have amassed 67 million and 18 million global plays, respectively. Upon Views‘ release, any of those plays that occurred in the United States will apply not only to those songs’ qualifications towards RIAA digital single certifications, but towards the album certification as well. By the RIAA’s new methodology, that amounts to potentially tens of thousands of applicable and attributable sales the second Views drops, though notably it won’t factor into its placement on Billboard’s album charts.
Furthermore, the inclusion of 2015 single “Hotline Bling” as a bonus track could send Views‘ RIAA numbers skyrocketing. With well over 400 million Spotify streams worldwide and close to 700 million official YouTube plays globally on Drake’s Vevo channel, this aging hit could be the infusion that sends Views well on its way to multi-platinum status before year’s end.
For an artist like Drake, for whom a new song release can generate millions of streams per day, the revised RIAA model assures him that Views will quickly achieve a platinum plaque. Using the RIAA’s model, 1,500,000 streams of an individual Drake song in the United States is the equivalent of 1,000 actual album sales. At 20 tracks long, that adds up to some potentially huge numbers for Views that would not have been factored into the award certification math prior to this year.
Perhaps Drake’s rival Meek Mill was onto something more than his theory that the Grammy’s were making sure he won something when he posted to photo and caption below.