Kanye West made history today when his album The Life of Pablo became the first release to debut on top the Billboard 200 based primarily on streaming plays alone. According to the publication, West sold an equivalent of number of 94,000 albums in the week ending on April 7th, which was the first week that it was eligible to be counted after spending almost a month as a Tidal-only exclusive. Of that larger figure, just 28,000 were pure album sales meaning that somewhere around 70% of the units moved came purely as a result of streaming.
It's a remarkable achievement for West and a milestone moment in music history as sales continue to drift away from physical purchases and more into the realm of subscription-based streaming platforms. While there have been many No. 1's in the recent past that have derived a large majority of their sales figures from a digital only delivery systems, most prominently the Drake and Future mixtape What a Time to Be Alive and Beyoncé's 2013 self-titled album, most of their sales were derived from physical purchases or digital downloads. Rihanna's album ANTI did hit No. 1 three weeks ago with a majority of it's 54,000 units stemming from streaming tracks, but that was nearly a month after it made its debut.
Way more than half of The Life of Pablo's success on the charts came purely from streaming revenue. In Billboard's mathmatic formula, The Life of Pablo's 66,000 SEA units equates to just over 99 million U.S. streams for the album’s tracks. Even before the numbers became official, Kanye took a moment to celebrate his own success on Twitter.
Thank you to everybody who made The Life of Pablo the number 1 album in the world!!!— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 9, 2016
I’m so happy that you guys like the music… I’m working on the tour designs now…— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 9, 2016
I also wanted to point out that it’s the first album to go number 1 off of streaming!!!— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 9, 2016