Hey! Friday December 20 is the last Trapital Member update of the year. Will return on Monday, January 6.
Also, check out today’s Trapital Podcast episode with Stem CEO Milana Lewis. We talk about the company’s role as a music distribution service, making tough decisions this year with its Stem Direct product, women in the music industry, and more. Make sure you check it out!
Today’s update covers Chance the Rapper’s decision to cancel The Big Tour and why it’s not a surprise, and Billboard’s decision to now count video plays on the Billboard 200 album charts.
Chance the Rapper’s Canceled Tour is No Surprise
From Chance’s Instagram account:
“Hey guys I’ve decided to cancel the Big Tour. I know it sucks and its been a lot of back and forth with reschedules and rerouting, but it’s for the best. I’m gonna take this time to be with family, make some new music and develop my best show to date. I’m deeply sorry to anyone with a ticket who has supported me this past decade by coming to a show and rocking out with me and I feel even worse for anyone who was planning on making this their first Chance concert. Thank you all for an amazing year, and a huge thanks to my team and family for being so strong through this whole year. I promise to come back much stronger and better in 2020 and hope to see some of you guys there. I truly love you and God bless.”
The Big Tour was originally scheduled to start in September. It was supposed to kick off at the Golden State Warrior’s new Chase Center here in San Francisco. In the caption, Lil’ Chano used family as the rationale for cancellation, but I’m not buying it.
Remember what T-Pain told us in October? The “Wiscansin” artist was honest about the low ticket sales for his recently canceled concert. His promoters and team asked him to lie but he stayed true. He then shed light on how most artists communicate this:
“Most artists lie. Whenever concerts get canceled or tours get canceled, it’s for low ticket sales. It ain’t really about whatever the fucking reason they say.”
There are several proof points to indicate that The Big Tour didn’t meet its expected demand.
First, there were warning signs before his most recent album, The Big Day, ever dropped. Here’s what I wrote in July in Why Chance the Rapper Started Selling His Music:
“But a lot has changed since then. Based on numbers, fans haven’t checked for Chance’s recent solo music. His last five singles came and went. He recently tried to launch a viral dance challenge for one of those singles, “Groceries,” but it didn’t gain much traction. Without that same momentum and without streaming exclusives, that boost needs to come from elsewhere.
Chance wants the Billboard charts to provide that bump. The charts matters to him (and most artists) because they grant artists the exposure, recognition, and vanity they desire. For Chance, he hopes that his album bundles will take Owbum to the #1 spot, elevate him back to the top of media culture, and everything will be Gucci.
This adjustment should help, but there are still other challenges to address.”
Note – Owbum was the initial name for The Big Day.
The streets told the Chicago rapper that his moment had passed, but he wasn’t having it.
Second, there are two types of artists most likely to cancel tours:
- first-timers who overestimate demand because there’s no past data
- stars whose moment passed but haven’t adjusted expectations
Chance is #2. He wanted The Big Day to top the charts, but it didn’t happen. He got beat out by rapper NF! But even if we control for the head-to-head matchup, the following 12 hip-hop artists outsold Chance’s 108,000 albums in their first weeks in 2019:
- Post Malone
- Kanye West
- Tyler, The Creator
- Juice WRLD
- Summer Walker
- DJ Khaled
- Young Thug
- Chris Brown
- Drake (Care Package)
How many of those acts can sell out a 36-show North American tour in 15,000-capacity arenas (which is what Chance the Rapper had planned for)? Drake, Post Malone, Kanye West, Dreamville (because of J. Cole) and maybe, MAYBE Tyler, the Creator in certain markets. Chance attempted to do something that most of the folks who outsold him can’t do either.
His tour plan looked very similar to his 2017 Be Encouraged tour—a 48-show North American arena tour which he announced after he won Best New Artist and Best Rap Album at the Grammys. But Chance’s stock was at its peak back then. A lot changed in two years.
Chance still has a ton of confidence in himself, as any artist should. On Hot 97 he recently said he’s a top-five rapper of all time (and that he’s not #5). At some point, his self-belief must be grounded in reality. No one stays on top forever. In the last two months, Drake got booed off stage and was asked “who invited you?” at a party. Anybody can get it.
The sooner Chance realizes that his superstar days are behind him but he can still be successful, the better off he will be. It’s tough. I get it. No one wants to peak early. But Chance has accomplished more than most rappers have and should focus on milking his 10 Day / Acid Rap / Coloring Book fame for all its worth.
YouTube Plays Now Counts on Billboard 200
Video and audio data from YouTube, along with visual plays from several music streaming services, will soon be factored into the Billboard 200 albums chart, it was announced on Friday. In addition to YouTube, officially licensed video content plays from Apple, Spotify, Tidal and Vevo will be included in the album chart’s calculations.
The inclusion of video data into the Billboard 200 arrives five years after audio streams were added, marking the chart’s shift from a measure of pure sales to a consumption model. The addition of video will also impact Billboard‘s genre album consumption charts, such as Country, R&B/Hip-Hop, Latin and others.
While YouTube streams have factored into the Billboard Hot 100 and other song-specific charts since February 2013, this marks a first for the album charts. In contrast with song charts, which can be impacted by user-generated videos, only official licensed video content uploaded by or on behalf of rights holders will be counted for the Billboard 200 and other albums charts.
YouTube videos are how a large portion of the world listens to music. Here’s YouTube’s Global Head of Music, Lyor Cohen via Billboard:
“Genres like Latin, hip-hop and electronic, which consistently dominate the YouTube charts, will now be properly recognized for their popularity. This is another great step in bringing YouTube and the industry together and we’re so grateful to Billboard and the music business at large for making this addition.”
The genres that over-index on YouTube will get more recognition on Billboard. It will still take a lot of streams to get there—3,750 streams equal an album-equivalent unit for YouTube’s free tier—but megastars like Ozuna and J Balvin can easily chart if their videos continue to generate billions of views.
Some are concerned that YouTube may count ad-supported views. In September, YouTube reported that it would no longer count ad views towards its own YouTube Music Charts.
“YouTube Music Charts have become an indispensable source for the industry and the most accurate place for measuring the popularity of music listening behavior happening on the world’s largest music platform. In an effort to provide more transparency to the industry and align with the policies of official charting companies such as Billboard and Nielsen, we are no longer counting paid advertising views on YouTube in the YouTube Music Charts calculation. Artists will now be ranked based on view counts from organic plays.”
Previously, artists could buy their way to the top. While I assume that a similar rationale was used with Billboard, it was not explicitly stated. A reclarification by YouTube can go a long way.
Ad-supported views are a clear and direct form of payola, but there are grey areas.
Did Netflix “pay” for 26 million people to watch The Irishman? No. But it paid for the software engineering team to automatically load the trailer on everyone’s Netflix account. It paid for the 20+ posters that line Burbank Airport. It paid Cari Champion, Rick Ross, and Nas to promote the movie on social media. Sure, Netflix is film and not music, but the same thing happens. The distinction is understandable, but the situations aren’t too dissimilar.