Drake’s double-disc album, Scorpion, has been available on streaming services since June 29. Just about two weeks later, the album was released on CD on July 13, a move that has some music retailers and label execs analyzing the pros/cons to why he dropped it so late in the game.
In a new article posted on Billboard, they asked attendees at the annual convention of Alliance Entertainment, the largest wholesaler and distributor of home entertainment products, their thoughts on why labels weren’t fully supporting the idea of releasing the album on CD.
According to Billboard, CD sales accounted for $1.06 billion in sales at retail in the U.S. last year, so attendees were trying to understand the strategy behind Drake delaying a physical release. Merchants predicted if Scorpion came out on CD the same time as it hit digital service providers, he would have sold 250,000 to 300,000 copies its debut week. But since the CD hit stores at a later date, Drake is selling fewer copies, and he’d be lucky if he gets between 50,000 to 80,000 copies its first week in the U.S.
“What Drake is doing is walking up to a table and seeing two bags of money, one with $100,000 on it and one with $500,000 on it and choosing to leave the larger bag of money on the table,” says a music retailer, assuming $2 per CD in royalties.
Label execs defend holding off on the CD release because it prevents leaks and piracy. One exec believes Drake is more concerned about being a top streaming artist (he did break hit one billion streams in a week) than raking in more than half a million in physical revenue. That amount doesn’t factor in Drake delaying the CD overseas, where data suggests strong CD sales in markets like Germany and Japan.
The article also breaks down other factors for less of a dependency on CDs. Besides declining CD sales (they’re down 19.9 percent to 35.9 million in the first 27 weeks of 2018 over the same period last year), surprise albums and information embargoes put a halt to executing marketing plans for albums. When you have to chase down data, it causes a ripple effect with every level of the supply chain. Says Alliance’s marketing director, Jocelyn Pryor, “The fact that data is screwed up due to an information embargo is a humongous problem to sales. If the industry doesn’t get away from this practice, this will be the final nail in the physical coffin.”