Sonically, I’m sure we have an opinion on which album we prefer. Personally, I prefer Sam Wise’s latest mixtape ‘Free Game’, but that’s just me. At unhurd, we’re focused on using artists data to make smarter marketing decisions across the digital landscape and so we thought it might be interesting to dig into the data for two of the biggest releases of the year as they go head to head.
Kanye dominates online conversation
Only in Iran, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia were Google search volumes higher for Drake than Kanye in the last 30 days. Kanye is known for creating viral moments and we can see the impact of these moments globally below. It’s the same story when we compare the search volumes of ‘Donda’ with ‘CLB’.
Drake dominates total streaming numbers but Kanye shows fantastic growth
Drake is so much bigger than Kanye West when it comes to Spotify followers with over 3 times the amount of followers than Kanye. This makes it easier for Drake to garner day one streams and so it’s no surprise that Drake has blown Kanye out the water when it comes to day 1 and week 1 streaming numbers on Spotify (CLB predicted to sell 600k units in week one, the biggest first week sales debut since Taylor Swift’s Folklore. Donda sold 327k units in week one). But, Kanye has shown impressive growth in listeners, up almost 30% over the past week vs Drake’s listeners which have shown very little change, maybe because he’s reached his audience cap and maybe because CLB listening hasn’t fully kicked in yet.
What’s even more interesting about the number of listeners, is that both Kanye and Drake have the same top four streaming cities in the same order. Los Angeles and Chicago are where the two biggest listenerships for both artists are located, followed by London and Dallas. Certainly powerful markets to hold your audience, but what about South America? It’s often tipped as the streaming capital of the world but not in these two cases. Does that present an opportunity for growth for these two streaming giants? Absolutely, given that both Brazil and Mexico feature in the top YouTube markets for these artists.
Drake is the dominant force when it comes to playlisting
Drake has a Spotify playlist count of almost 50% more than Kanye West. Drake currently sits on 734,000 Spotify playlists vs Kanye who is now on 581,000 Spotify playlists. Again, really highlighting the forceful fandom Drake possesses. Apple Music is very much the same story.
Why does Drake get fewer comments on Instagram than me?
Drake has a staggering 91 million Instagram followers vs Kanye’s measly 8.2 million followers. However, if you look at the number of comments on Drake’s profile, something doesn’t look quite right. Let’s start with Kanye. His last post received 18,247 comments at the time of writing. Seems about right. Drake’s last post at the time of writing has 64 comments and the one before that, 81 comments and the average number of comments across all his IG posts is just 116. Does Drake have an Instagram shadow ban? Does he limit the amount of comments on his posts? Possibly, but whatever it is, we don’t think it looks too great.
Drake has already double the number of views on his latest video vs Kanye’s
Both artists released their first video to accompany their projects. Kanye released ‘Come to Life’ whilst Drake released ‘Way 2 Sexy’. Both brilliantly crafted pieces of entertainment in their own right. But, Drake has already racked up 9 million views at the time of writing this two days after it’s release vs Kanye’s 3.5 million which has also had an extra day to bring in the viewership. Interestingly, both artists garnered around 200,000 subscribers since releasing their new videos taking Kaye’s subscribers up to 7.3 million and Drake’s up to 25.1 million.
So what does this all mean?
To summarise, although Kanye’s marketing genius creates genuinely viral moments (and some of the biggest), it’s hard to compete with Drake’s dominance. Drake seems to have monopolised the social and streaming platforms in that his core audience is so large, he has the ability to drive huge volumes of organic streams. This commands attention from the DSPs, and they quickly double down on his organic reach and support his new music through the best playlist placement out there which in turn drives huge incremental uplifts in his streams. Really, this may come full circle back to the sonic makeup of the tracks presented by both artists. Drake really does make Pop Hop, which has broad appeal and is easy to digest, vs Kanye’s sometimes challenging compositions which are no doubt sprinkled with touches of genius, but equally not as easy for your parents to listen to. Kanye vs Drake seems to leave Kanye being a niche artist within the global music community vs Drake who appeals to all generations and music fans no matter what genre takes your preference.