Drake breaks streaming record with blockbuster album Views

Drake arriving at the Grammy Nominations Concert in Los Angeles on Dec 2, 2009.
Drake arriving at the Grammy Nominations Concert in Los Angeles on Dec 2, 2009.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Drake smashed a streaming record Sunday as the Apple-backed Canadian rapper's latest album scored the biggest debut on the US charts this year.

The songs on Views, which came out on April 29, were streamed 245.1 million times in the United States in the week through Thursday, according to tracking service Nielsen Music.

The figure far outpaces the previous record-holding album, Purpose by fellow Canadian star Justin Bieber, whose songs were streamed around 100 million times in the week after its release in November.

Views sold more than one million copies either in direct sales or the equivalent in streaming, making it the best-selling album in the United States in its first week since Adele's massive 25 - which she kept off streaming services - in November, Nielsen Music said.

Drake's success marks a victory for Apple as he released Views exclusively through the tech giant's Apple Music streaming service and iTunes store.

Several tracks, such as the hit Hotline Bling, were available on rival services such as streaming leader Spotify but not the album as a whole.

Views nonetheless earned most of its sales through iTunes purchases, indicating that - despite rapid market changes - many Apple customers still preferred downloads when the only other choice was Apple Music streaming.

Spotify has recently faced a number of artists staying away. Radiohead on Sunday released its latest album on major streaming sites except Spotify after criticizing the Swedish company's compensation to artists.

Pop superstar Beyonce on April 23 put out her latest album, Lemonade, solely on the Tidal streaming service led by her husband Jay Z, although she soon also sold it on iTunes.

Views - which initially featured an appearance by Jay Z, which was removed - pushed Lemonade to second place on the weekly chart.

Prince's classic album Purple Rain was number three amid an outpouring after the pop icon's unexpected death.

Views also opened at number one in Britain where it was the second fastest-selling album of the year after David Bowie's Blackstar, another work that found growing interest after a music legend suddenly died.

Drake conceived the 20-song, 90-minute Views as an ode to his hometown Toronto and had been discussing the album for two years before its release.

He nonetheless was one of the most successful artists of 2015 when he put out two works which he described as mixtapes rather than full-fledged albums.