Hey! Two quick things before today’s update:
- Tomorrow is the Trapital Happy Hour in Manhattan at 6pm! The reservation’s already been made and most folks have already RSVPed. But if you’re still considering it, please reply by end of day today and let me know!
- The latest Trapital Podcast is out! I chatted with DJ Semtex, award-winning DJ, radio host, author, and podcaster. We talked about the moment UK is having in hip-hop, how Brexit has impacted the hip-hop landscape, why he still loves radio, and a few artists to look out for.
Today’s update covers Future releasing his Monster mixtape on all platforms to celebrate its fifth anniversary, the box office performance of Kanye West’s Jesus is King in IMAX, and Spotify’s Q3 reports of 113 million subscribers and the departure of CFO Barry McCarthy.
Future Maximizes Mixtape Anniversary
From Future’s Instagram:
“I’ve always spoke through my music and the people championed my trials and tribulations whole heartedly with no regards. Remember #MONSTER 5years later this classic is available on all platforms,Thanks for the love #RIPSETH ❤️🦅”
Hey, you think Future’s been reading Trapital?? When I wrote How Rappers Can Maximize Their Mixtape Anniversaries, it was centered around the tenth anniversary of Drake’s So Far Gone mixtape when he made the project available on all platforms. In that article, I called out the upcoming ten-year anniversaries for Nicki Minaj’s Beam Me Up Scotty, J. Cole’s The Warm Up, and Lil’ Wayne’s No Ceilings. Two of those have passed already, and No Ceilings anniversary is on Thursday, October 31. I originally focused on the ten-year anniversaries, but heads up to Future for taking advantage of this moment. Why wait until 2024? The music landscape will look drastically different by then.
This was an important mixtape for Future for several reasons. First, like J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive, it was the trap king’s first project after he went overly commercial on Honest. His true fans grew skeptical of whether Future would live up to the potential shown on Pluto and Dirty Sprite. Future has said on wax that most rappers don’t get a second chance as he did (I can’t find the quote/article right now, but will post in Slack or share later this week if I find it).
Second, it kicked off the holy trinity of mixtapes with Beast Mode and 56 Nights. Those three built momentum for DS2, completing the comeback and winning back his fans. If Future’s run was a movie, it would be Creed 2. Michael B Jordan’s character, like Future, got his ass kicked in the first fight back in the ring*.* After taking the L, MBJ went back to his roots and upped his training. This is when Future dropped Monster. Both Adonis Creed and Nayvadius Wilburn added some new skills to their repertoire. MBJ got his upright fighting stance down, and Future teamed up with Zaytoven for Beast Mode. Soon after, MBJ was in the middle of a desert training like a Navy SEAL. Similarly, Future and DJ Esco got jammed up in Dubai, hence the 56 Nights mixtape name. It all led up to the penultimate redemption moment—the return to the mainstream stage. Creed had his rematch with Drago’s son. Future had his rematch with the mainstream audience with DS2.
Did I just write a screenplay for the Future biopic? I think I just wrote the screenplay for the Future biopic. Call up Tyler Perry, we’re gonna need one of those sound stages!
The Monster re-release won’t top the Billboard charts as Kanye’s Jesus is King will take that top spot pretty easily. However, it will serve as another indication in the power of these re-releases. Future already has some merch for sale associated with Monster.
Beast Mode and 56 Nights hit their five year anniversaries in a few months… Is a 2020 trilogy mixtape tour on the way? If not, it should be.
Jesus is King Banks $1M, But Is That Enough?
“Kanye West brought his Sunday Service to the big screen with “Jesus Is King,” a 30-minute short film that collected $1.03 million globally over the weekend…
The on-screen musical event features 13 songs, both gospel standards and West’s biggest hits, performed by the choir. “Jesus Is King” generated $862,000 from 372 Imax theaters in North America, along with $175,000 from 68 international venues in 12 markets. Imax plans to expand the film to 78 additional foreign territories on Nov. 8.
Megan Colligan, president of Imax Entertainment, said that with “Jesus Is King,” the company is exploring unconventional ways of creating exclusive events and experiences in their theaters.
“We saw an opportunity to create a cultural moment with a visionary artist in a way that expands the Imax brand, while surprising audiences and experimenting with what we can bring to our platform beyond blockbusters,” she added.”
I don’t know the budget for this film, as its dual-status as an album shields it from needing to publicize that number (smh). But let’s conservatively say that a 35-minute IMAX film costs at least $10 million. Unless a movie is a surprise smash hit that becomes the water cooler talk (like Joker), it rarely earns 10% of its revenue on opening weekend. Standard is closer to ~30%. In other words, the movie probably won’t earn enough to cover its costs. Even as Jesus is King expands to 78 markets, $9 million more is too much ground to cover.
Most die-hard Kanye fans have already seen it. There was already a steep drop off from later shows this past weekend. Here’s a quick write up from Erik Skelton at Complex:
“The two opening showings that Complex attended in New York City were each nearly sold out, but following screenings might not be quite as full. Less than ten minutes before the next showing at AMC Lincoln Square 13 began, only 40 of 480 tickets had been sold, according to the theater’s website.”
Ye’s not the only music legend who struggled at the box office this weekend though. Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars debuted with a mere **$560,000 from 537 theaters—even more than Jesus is King. It’s the second bust this year for Springsteen. Blinded by the Light came and went with minimal buzz. Bruce is one of the legendary rock draws, but his movies are a forgettable part of his content strategy.
A Comscore rep explained the difference. His rationale applies to Ye as well:
“While it seems that everyone loves Bruce Springsteen, a documentary showcasing the performance of his new album in its entirety may have been a draw strictly for the die-hard fans and thus was unable to break out to a broader audience. But you have to appreciate it when a studio serves the content and the artists involved, not just the bottom line.”
The two strongest concert-tour movies were Miley Cyrus’ Hannah Montana in 2008 (debuted at $31 million) and Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never in 2011 ($29.5 million). At the time, both artists were teenagers who served teenage fanbases. That audience loves to pay for stuff like that. If 17-year-old Billie Eilish put out a movie out right now, it would probably put up numbers with other teens too. But it’s seemingly harder for a 42-year-old born-again Christian rapper like Kanye, or a 70-year-old “boss.”
NOTE – There’s a case to be made that Jesus is King in IMAX can’t be analyzed in isolation given the album, merchandise, and everything tied together. But I’m also not buying that case! The IMAX experience is a ticketed item for diehard fans, not an easily-accessible product that can be justified as a marketing expense.
Spotify’s 113M Subscribers, CFO departs
The digital streaming titan comfortably hit its Q3 goals with 113M million subscribers. That’s 5 million more than it had Q2.
For context, here’s a financial metrics summary from Music Business Worldwide:
Average revenue per user is down 3% from last year. It’s currently at €4.67. That’s number will continue to drop as Spotify seeks more growth in markets with lower household income, like India and Latin America.
At some point, the steep promotional offers will wear off and Spotify (and its competitors) will saturate the market. At that point, the price increases will come. Spotify has already tested out a 10% price increase in Norway. Don’t be surprised when the price hike comes to the U.S. It may trickle in at first—with family plans limiting the number of users, or less frequent promotional offers. But eventually, the $9.99 U.S. price will seem like a steal as that price climbs. Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, and Tidal will likely follow suit.
In related news, Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy will leave the company in January. It’s not surprising. McCarthy was brought in to help the company go public with its direct listing. He arrived in 2015 and also helped lead the company’s focus on podcasting and other revenue streams outside of music streaming. Now that the company’s public and focusing on its broader revenue mix, McCarthy, 64, can drop the mic and move on. His impact was made.