•NEW YORK• Drake smashed a streaming record on Sunday as the Apple-backed Canadian rapper's latest album scored the biggest debut on the United States charts this year.
The songs on Views, out on April 29, were streamed 245.1 million times in the US in the week through last Thursday, according to tracking service Nielsen Music.
That 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 last year.
Views sold more than one million copies either in direct sales or the equivalent in streaming, making it the best-selling album in the US in its first week since Adele's massive 25 - which she kept off streaming services - last November, Nielsen Music said.
Drake's success marks a victory for Apple as he released Views exclusively through its Apple Music streaming service and iTunes store. Tracks such as the hit Hotline Bling were available on rival services such as streaming leader Spotify, but not the whole album.
Still, Views 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 criticising its compensation to artists. Beyonce on April 23 put out her 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 and then removed an appearance by Jay Z - pushed Lemonade to second place on the weekly chart. Prince's classic album Purple Rain (1984) was No. 3, amid an outpouring after the pop icon's unexpected death.
Views also opened at No. 1 in Britain, where it was the second fastest-selling album of the year after David Bowie's Blackstar (2016), another work that found growing interest after the music legend suddenly died.