Tearing a page from Beyoncé’s book, Drake dropped a surprise album entitled If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. While a gutsy and risky move for any artist, it wasn’t a real shocker when Queen Bey managed to pull off the stint. The BeyHive’s unwavering fandom has turned the starlet into an international sensation and the highest paid black artist of all time, with earnings succeeding greats like Michael Jackson and Prince. And although it’s hard to imagine a talent whose commercial success is remotely comparable, the numbers from his latest album indicate that Drake—an artist whose time in isn’t even half of Beyoncé’s reign—shows a whole lot of promise.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late took over the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart. According to Billboard, the album “moved 535,000 units in the week ending Feb. 15, according to Nielsen Music, with pure album sales comprising 495,000 of that figure — all from digital downloads.” Music analysts expected the unanticipated project to sell past the 500,000 mark, but the sales are still impressive for a body of work that pushed no singles and invested in no promotion. Beyoncé’s unannounced self-titled album did 828,773 in three days.
Whether artists like Beyoncé and Drake are just that great, or they simply benefit from their cult-like followings’ guaranteed support is debatable. Whichever side of the fence you stand on, however, the fact remains that it is still wildly impressive to sell that many records in just a few short days. Music has suffered, and is steadily suffering, a big hit in sales. Less than $3.2 billion in music sales was recorded in the first half of 2014, down nearly 5% from the same period in 2013.
CDs are officially a thing of the past with sales down 19%. “Digital track sales are falling at nearly the same rate as CD sales, as music fans are turning to streaming—on iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and music blogs,” according to The Atlantic.
In a recent interview on The Breakfast Club, rapper Tyga admitted to the lack of money in music, which is why he also plumps his pockets via real estate, fashion design and mobile app technology. With the vast drop in sales that show no real sign of returning to where they once were, other artists are taking on similar business endeavors. Even Beyoncé and Drake, who’ve proven to be rare exceptions in the sales game, have snagged more than a few deals for some extra cushion.