Chart Beat

Analyzing Drake's Surprise Album Streams: Which Track Could Be a Single?

Drake photographed on March 5, 2014 in Amsterdam.
Paul Bergen/Redferns via Getty Images

Drake photographed on March 5, 2014 in Amsterdam.

Now that the first full seven-day tracking period after the release of Drake's surprise mixtape album, If You're Reading This It's Too Late, has passed, its tracks are starting to storm onto the Streaming Songs chart. 

On the chart dated March 7, "Energy," "Legend," "10 Bands" and "Know Yourself" arrive at Nos. 26, 29, 32 and 34, respectively, thanks to streams garnered in the week ending Feb. 22. They enter just under the chart's top debut, "One Last Time" by Ariana Grande, which bows following the Feb. 15 debut of its official video (4.6 million views for the week, up 176 percent over the previous frame, according to Nielsen Music).

Drake's Entire Album Is on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart

While If You're Reading This It's Too Late's tracks are popping on streaming services, radio is mostly taking a hands-off approach with the set. Drake's label (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic) hasn't announced an official single from the album, and while a few radio stations have chosen to spin some album tracks, none of the cuts on the album have appeared on any of of Billboard's airplay charts.

Looking below the 50-position Streaming Songs chart, here's how each track from If You're Reading This It's Too Late fared in its first full week of activity counting toward the chart:

Taking a step back and looking at how the album performed in its first week, it becomes pretty obvious which singles might make the best choices for the label to work to radio.

In the week ending Feb. 22, the album's 17 tracks sold a combined 237,000 downloads and were streamed more than 48.8 million times. Spotify was the dominant streaming platform, garnering around an 80 percent share of any track's streaming total. The album's first two tracks, "Legend" (4.4 million streams; 24,000 downloads) and "Energy" (4.6 million streams; 77,000 downloads), received the lion's share of attention across the two considered consumption metrics.

The ordering of the tracks in this case is likely responsible for "Legend" and "Energy" coming out on top of the Streaming Songs tally. As previously reported by Billboard's Gary Trust, the ordering of tracks on an album matters exceedingly more in the digital age. "Such data suggests that the earlier a song appears on an album, the more likely a listener is to stream it. At the same time, a music consumer's attention span may be even shorter than any artist wants to believe."

That short attention span is aptly represented in how each track's stream count decreases the further down it is on Late's track list, with a few notable exceptions. One of those is the track "6 God," a song that was previously released on Oct. 24; it garners more plays than the preceding track on the album. As does "Used To," which features Lil Wayne, and "Jungle."

However, looking at digital sales, a more drastic discrepancy emerges. "Energy" receives more than three times the amount of downloads as the second-most purchased song, "Legend." When you consider that the download is a more significant action than a stream (since in this case users had to purchase the track), it becomes obvious that "Energy" stands far out from the pack as the best candidate for a radio single and is the clear winner as a fan favorite from the album.