Drake's mixtape If You're Reading This It's Too Late dropped in February of this year essentially unannounced, and immediately it was a hit, with 10 tracks finding their way onto Billboard's hip-hop/R&B list. Six months later, the album has sold 1 million copies, meaning it's gone platinum — the first album to do so in 2015 and his fourth to reach that mark.
So why is it such a big deal? The short answer is because it's 2015. With streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and now Apple Music increasingly dictating the terms of the music industry, consumers just don't want to pay for each of the songs they listen to. They want to pay a flat fee and stream a ton of music at their leisure.
The reality is, no one goes platinum anymore. So Drake's a rare breed.
The streaming model is awesome for consumers, but it's pretty terrible for artists — with revenues tied to how many streams their work gets on a given platform, the opportunity to make money is significantly less than having people pay to buy their music directly. It's an unfortunate reality, but musicians have had little choice but to adapt.
The quality of music hasn't gotten worse, but the game itself has changed.
Hitting the platinum mark used to be a top goal of any given musician's career. With album sales continuing to decline at a rapid pace though, it's just not attainable for anyone not named Drake or Taylor Swift (her latest, 1989, went platinum in 2014) — in other words, only the absolute elite in mainstream music can get there. It has nothing to do with how well their work stacks up against smaller artists, just that they sell on name alone.
Regardless of how big you are though, it's huge whenever someone hits the platinum mark. With Drake promising to drop Views from the 6 later this year, maybe he's not done establishing that 2015 is his year.
But like he says on "6 Man," "I'm not tryna win awards, that sh*t look forced."