Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo sets streaming record on way to No. 1 debut on charts

Pablo becomes the first album to take No. 1 from more than 50% streaming units

Kanye West just nabbed his seventh No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, and the rapper did so by setting a new record for streaming. According to Billboard, The Life of Pablo arrives at No. 1 as the first record where “the majority (70 percent, in fact) of its units were generated by streaming equivalent albums (SEA).” Pablo earned an eye-opening 66,000 SEA units on the April 7th chart. Each SEA is equivalent to 1,500 streams from an album, so those 66,000 units equate to just over 99 million U.S. streams.

As Billboard notes, “None of Pablo’s tracks were available for individual purchase, so the album debuts on the strength of only streams and traditional album sales.” The previous record for streaming percentages at No. 1 was set just three weeks ago by Rihanna, whose Anti nabbed the top slot on the April 2nd chart with 31.3% of its total units (54,000) coming from streams. In terms of overall streaming units at the No. 1 spot, Pablo barely missed passing Justin Bieber’s Purpose, which started with 67,000 SEA units, or roughly 100 million streams of the album’s tracks.

Pablo’s chart-topping success comes as a vindication of sorts for West, as the album failed to chart upon its initial release in February. This was chiefly the result of the album debuting exclusively on TIDAL, which didn’t report the streaming numbers to Nielsen Music. (West finally made Pablo available on all streaming services six weeks after its initial debut on TIDAL.)

West celebrated the news in a series of tweets that also hinted at his designs for an upcoming tour:

Speaking of West’s upcoming tour plans, the rapper headlined this weekend’s Paradise International Music Festival in Manila, Philippines, marking his first live performance since the release of Pablo. Watch clips from that concert here.


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