The ever-changing music industry is waist-deep in a transition period where streams are slowly eclipsing actual album sales as the most relevant means of consuming music. Nielsen Soundscan and Billboard have adjusted, gradually accounting streams as more significant in their album sales tracking and no artists have benefited more from the change than the Canadian super-duo Drake and The Weeknd.
Drake’s continued chart dominance has been aided by his astronomical streaming numbers since the day he released his latest album, Views, and The Weeknd has followed the same blueprint with his latest LP Starboy. The latter has just topped Billboard‘s Hot 200 chart for the third week in a row, a full two months after its November release and this week he did so while selling just a measly 13,000 albums.
According to a report from The New York Times, six albums sold more than Starboy’s 13,000 last week, including Run The Jewels new release RTJ3. Instead, Starboy was buoyed by over 57 million streams of songs from the album, a number that has held steady the past two weeks. In fact, three weeks ago the songs from the album were streamed just over 59 million times, kicking off the three-week run.
The streams outpace any album within Starboy’s orbit, including the No. 2 album on the charts XX’s I See You. While selling 36,000 copies of the new album, XX only managed 12 million streams, allowing The Weeknd to maintain his spot atop the charts.
It’s no coincidence that the two biggest beneficiaries of the equivalent albums era of Billboard and Soundscan were the poster boys of the huge Apple Music launch back in 2015. They’ve benefited from their placement on the streaming service’s playlists and interface as figureheads of the platform. The only question is when does Nielsen and Billboard adjust to that?