How can an album that nobody has ever bought make the US Top 10 not once, not twice, but four times? The answer lies in the growing power of streaming.
Epic Records has engineered the chart feat with Epic AF, a compilation album that has never been released yet features a bunch of tracks that have been hugely popular as songs in their own right.
Since late 2014 when streaming services began their domination of the music industry, the Billboard 200 album chart has counted 1,500 streams or ten paid downloads of a song as equivalent to one album sale. The catch? This is only the case if the song in question is attached to an album. If it’s not, those streams and downloads count for nothing.
Epic Records figured that there must be a way around this fiddly little issue as many of their artists’ viral tunes were being wasted simply because they were not yet on an album. Their solution was to collate those songs into their own compilation record so they could count towards the chart, which still stands as a key marketing tool for labels.
Tracks featured on Epic AF include “For Free” by DJ Khaled ft Drake, “Pick Up the Phone” by Travis Scott and Young Thug, a remix of “Down in the DM” by Yo Gotti ft Nicki Minaj and a bunch of other artists that the label wants to promote. Once the artists’ albums come out, streams for the singles start counting towards those instead. For example, “For Free” features on DJ Khaled’s number one album Major Key, which came out last week, pushing Epic AF from number five down to 32.
Sony, which owns Epic Records, is reportedly planning another compilation album featuring more pop acts.