17 November 2018

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THE BIGGEST ALBUM LAUNCHES IN THE US THIS YEAR ARE STREAMING EXCLUSIVES

Spotify’s global support is looking like an increasingly necessary component for any artist who wants a global chart hit.

The Swedish service is deliberately failing to promote new records from artists (such as Katy Perry) who window their releases exclusively on rival services Apple Music and TIDAL.

In Perry’s case, factors including lackluster airplay support left her comeback track Rise especially exposed to the effects of being shunned on Spotify’s top playlists.

But it’s worth pointing out that some megastar streaming exclusive deals haven’t suffered the same fate – particularly when it comes to albums in the US.

In fact, the three biggest week-one album sales figures in the US market this year all fit the streaming exclusive bill:

  1. Drake’s Views (Apple Music/iTunes exclusive): 1.04m equivalent sales
  2. Beyonce’s Lemonade (Tidal exclusive): 653,000 equivalent sales
  3. Frank Ocean’s Blonde (Apple Music/iTunes exclusive): 276,000 equivalent sales

Interestingly, all three records didn’t have a physical component at launch.

Drake’s Views eventually landed on Spotify after two weeks of being locked out on Apple’s platform, and the same is expected from Frank Ocean’s Blonde.

(Although, as you’ll probably know by now, Blonde’s a self-release – so don’t expect him to follow any hard and fast rules.)

Both Views and Blonde appear to follow the same download exclusive pattern, too: locked on iTunes for a fortnight, and only available to buy as a full album bundle.

Beyonce’s Lemonade remains a Tidal streaming exclusive, but is available for download on iTunes.

In terms of ‘pure’ downloads/sales, the same three records top 2016’s week-one numbers in the States:

  1. Drake’s Views: 852,000
  2. Beyonce’s Lemonade: 485,000
  3. Frank Ocean’s Blonde: 232,000

So what does this tell us? Depends on your view.

There’s no doubting that, in an age where a lifetime million-selling album is a rarity, Drake’s ability to surpass the seven-figure mark in a single week is an enviable achievement.

Frank Ocean (quarter of a million in a week) and Beyonce (almost three-quarters of a million) also definitely got off to fine starts.

Spotify’s question would be: could these artists have achieved even more using the power of our platform? Especially outside the US?

With significantly more than 100m active users around the world, it’s a point worth considering.

All US sales stats: Nielsen/Billboard.Music Business Worldwide

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