Kanye West Has Made Hip-Hop History In The Era Of Streaming Music
In 2017 and beyond, racking up awards and setting records for streaming-only releases will likely become the norm. Chance The Rapper, who just won three Grammy Awards for an album he gave away online for free; and Drake, who shattered streaming records when More Life earned over 89 million plays on Apple Music, are setting the new standard for what success looks like in today’s digital music landscape. Now,Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo has just become the first streaming-only album to go platinum.
While Hip-Hop artists are not the only ones breaking records (for example, Ed Sheeran just broke a global streaming record set by The Weeknd), the fact that a Rap album is the first streaming-only LP to go Platinum is a major win for Hip-Hop.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the organization responsible for awarding official sales certifications to musicians and their releases, West’s The Life of Pablo officially reached platinum status on March 27, with one-million units registered as having been sold. Considered to be a “streaming-only” album due to it being available only through digital platforms (streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music, online retailers like iTunes, as well as West’s own website, where he sold the LP), Pablo is West’s eighth effort to sell at least a million copies.
As reported by Billboard, it’s unclear “if the platinum status included the album’s sales in addition to streams,” though a source knowledgeable about RIAA operations says the organization “does not break out the components of any certification.” Rather, “The platinum certification reflects a million equivalent album units, which blends traditional album sales, tracks sold from an album and on-demand audio and video streams.”
The Life of Pablo also made history when it became the first streaming-only album to reach number one on the charts in the U.S. Heads may recall that the album’s rollout process shifted often, with West himself calling it “a living album.” New versions of the track list, the LP title, and other updates to the album appeared well after it dropped in February 2016. As such, it faced its fair share of naysayers, though with its latest history-making accomplishment, it appears that Kanye West is doing something right.