Drake's Views dropped exclusively on Apple Music last night, as I'm sure anyone with an internet connection knows by now. I've been listening to it all day, but I can't help but wonder: what would Views have been like if it wasn't being used as a chess piece in the ongoing streaming wars?
As I'm sure is the case with a lot of you, I was tuned into Beats 1 Radio last night in hopes of catching Drake's interview with Zane Lowe, scheduled to air at 9 pm EST, then pushed back to 10:45. Well, 10:45 came, and still no interview. 10:55 came, and I was impatiently listening to a Rae Sremmurd song on Beats 1. Then, as Twitter was virtually exploding with anticipation, boom, the album drops.
"Alright, screw the interview," said me and everyone else. "I'm listening to Views."
"I was just having conversation with Kanye — that just landed in my lap, so I just dealt with it accordingly," said Drake in his Zane Lowe interview. "It didn’t exactly play out how I would've wanted it to as far as business or whatever goes, so I just figured it would just be easier to go with my version."
You can bet your ass this won't be up for long.
"Business"... oh okay, now it makes sense. Views is, at least for now, only available on Apple Music, the same way Kanye's The Life Of Pablo was streaming exclusively TIDAL until recently. For TIDAL owner Jay Z, it wouldn't be a good look to have your name on a track that's an exclusive to a rival streaming service. But it's a shame that might be behind the absence of the Kanye verse. I enjoy that a lot more than Drake's half-assed replacement.
Could a similar business disagreement be the reason there's no more Popcaan feature on "Controlla?" At this point it's unclear, but given the context of Drake's comments, it's not outlandish to assume there was some kind of situation going on behind the scenes.
Without the streaming exclusivity, there's a good chance that Views would have been a lot shorter than it is now. At 20-tracks long, it's far from a skin-and-bones project. The run-time is well over an hour, a somewhat exhausting length at least in the first few spins. It seems like the reason Drizzy went with so many tracks has something to do with the RIAA's revised album sales model.
In February, the RIAA announced that it would be putting a larger emphasis on streaming when it comes to calculating album sales: 1500 streams is now equal to 10 albums sold. An artist as popular as Drake can easily bring in millions of streams in one day, and the inclusion of the already streamed-and-memed singles "One Dance," "Pop Style," and the bonus track "Hotline Bling" means all those individual song streams on Spotify and YouTube count towards the overall sales of the album. Well played.
Remember when, during the lead up to Nothing Was The Same, Drake rapped on his "Versace" remix: "I think I'm doing a million first week, man, I guess I'm an optimist"? Well, optimism didn't really work out for him, seeing as NWTS only moved 658,000 units first week, but these new streaming models might just be enough to give him that first week platinum plaque, even without putting it on Spotify.
"I think I'm doing a million first week, man, I guess I'm taking full advantage of the RIAA's new streaming regulations" - "Versace Re-Remix".
Whatever the album would have looked like if it wasn't an Apple Music exclusive there's no doubt it would have done well, but I think it's interesting to see the way artists are adjusting to the modern industry landscape. It's clear that streaming exclusivity has played a role in shaping Views.