Love him or hate him, it seems the world is anxiously anticipating Drake’s new album/mixtape/playlist or whatever he’s calling it More Life. The problem is, nobody knows when it’s going to arrive, and judging by the multiple delays Drake himself is included in that uncertainty. In the world of digital-only albums, Apple Music radio shows, free releases, DatPiff, Soundcloud and every other manner to distribute music without manufacturing physical product and shipping it into stores for consumers to consume, it literally could arrive at any moment. Ironically enough, Drake is part of the reason the climate is that way, and he, along with big names like Jay Z, Kanye West, Beyonce and more, have essentially obliterated the concept of a release date or a typical album release.
Like many industry-wide trends, the new release standards originated in hip-hop, and it’s opportunistic and resourceful underground. The reverberations would be felt a decade later and cause the entire industry to literally recalibrate the way they not only release music, but when and how they count the music that is consumed.
The old, traditional norm for an album or EP release is as follows: An artist drops a single or singles aimed at radio consumption in order to gain as many ears and eyes as possible, when enough eyes and ears are gained said artist then begins marching towards a release and even offers a scheduled release date, said artist does a press tour to remind fans of the album and eventually the album releases.
As mixtapes began to shape the climate of rap in the early to mid-2000s, suddenly that model had began to rescind. Now, an artist could release songs whenever, with little to no notice, and as new, original production became even less of a necessity they could release songs often.
When prime Lil Wayne kicked things into high gear a new standard was set, gone were the days when an artist could release 13 songs every 18 months, now some were releasing 13 songs every month, if not more. Now, artist were expected to keep a constant stream of material online to feed fans insatiable thirst for new music.
This free music became serious business as traditional album sales and the value of music plummeted while free music was in abundance. The popularity of free music could lead to the new industry gold mine — live shows. As such, it was worth it to allocate funds towards free music as the best and most popular artists could make up for it in the long run.