Drake has long been crowned as the king of streaming music, with his newly released album Scorpion continuing his legacy of breaking global streaming records on major music services. The 25-track album had 170 million streams within 24 hours of launching on Apple Music, while Spotify proclaimed that the album being listened to 10 million times per hour at one point with 132 million streams occurring globally. Billboard reported that Scorpion totaled 435 million streams during its launch weekend, unseating Post Malone as the one-week streaming record holder with 431 million in three days.
But Drake didn’t rise to the top of the streaming charts based on his musical talents alone. The album launch was accompanied by a massive promotional blitz that was clearly successful but left some listeners crying “enough.”
The Canadian artist signed an exclusive deal with Apple Music in 2015, which gave Drake regular endorsements and promotions. In promoting the new album, Apple updated Siri with a long list of Drake’s nicknames, which are provided randomly to encourage users to ask the voice assistant about it multiple times. Additionally, Apple Music also released the “Make Your Drake” web app, which let users make their own personalized album art based on Scorpion’s cover.
On Friday, Spotify proclaimed on Twitter that Drake was the answer for every occasion, which was the lead-in for “ScorpionSZN,” the music streaming service’s first-ever global dedicated artist takeover. With this intensive promotional campaign, Spotify partnered with labels Republic, Cash Money and Young Money to feature the artist’s picture on its homepage and across dozens of playlists on the same day—even ones that don’t have any of Drake’s songs on them. Additionally, playlist headers had slogans such as “Have a happy FriDrake” and “Thank God it’s FriDrake.”
The heavy promotion almost undoubtedly helped push Scorpion rise to the top, and the RIAA has officially named Drake as its highest certified digital singles artist with 142 million singles to date. However, this kind of heavy push didn’t come with some consequences. Users who didn’t appreciate the takeover voiced their frustration and mocked the campaign on social media—drawing comparisons to when Apple angered users by placing a copy of U2’s Songs of Innocence in everyone’s library without permission.
Some premium Spotify users who paid for an ad-free experience saw the takeover as advertising and demanded refunds. Potential damage to Spotify’s reputation as a service that personalizes music according to individual tastes remains to be seen, as the campaign can be seen as pushing music that its users might not like, but the success of the promotion seems to outweigh any apparent outrage. Spotify’s Twitter account currently has several Drake-related posts with none issuing an apology.