Without any warning besides what we should have guessed was coming after a string of new releases, on July 1 Logic dropped off his new mixtape Bobby Tarantino and it looks like the gamble will pay off. HDD reports the release will "sell" between 20-23K copies (in streaming equivalent sales) during its first week.
The tape follows Logic's last studio album The Incredible True Story, which was released in November 2015 and had impressive first-week sales of 135k.
The numbers for Bobby Tarantino speak to a few different things:
What's a "Mixtape"?
A "mixtape" in 2016 is quite a bit different than it was in the early days of the web or pre-internet. A mixtape, as old school heads know it, was a combination of exclusives, freestyles, mashed up tracks and a lot of DJ Clue talking over the music. Mixtapes in 2016 have, for all intents and purposes, become albums and it seems the "mixtape" tag is being used both as a marketing ploy and a way for the artist and label to say, "Well, it was only a mixtape," if the project were to flop. Do you consider Chance The Rapper's Coloring Booka mixtape? Despite the fact that it's one of the best hip-hop albums of the past five years, Chance maintains it's not an album. The same can be said for Logic's Bobby Tarantino, a complete project structured very much like an album. We might think of them as "free" releases, but whether fans are paying for it via a subscription to Apple Music or advertisers are paying to run ads next to it on Spotify/YouTube etc., there's very real money behind every listen of Bobby Tarantino.
Expect a Surprise
It's impossible to deny the surprise (or almost surprise) release phenomenon now—in many ways, it's become the new standard. Recent examples from Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna and others have shown that partnering with streaming services for "exclusive" album releases—Logic's new mixtape was temporarily an Apple Music exclusive—is lucrative business for the artist and record labels. It drives a stream of guaranteed revenue that offsets falling music sales and appears almost to be a "gift" to fans, as if the artist is saying "screw the system, I'm just going to give this to you now," despite the fact that there's a carefully orchestrated machine working behind the scenes that spent hours and hours planning the "surprise" release, often in coordination with the label.
Hip-Hop's Biggest Under the Radar Superstar
Right now, Logic might be hip-hop's biggest under the radar superstar. He is currently co-headlining a tour with G-Eazy, playing to larger crowds than most of your favorite rappers, his firsttwo studio albums on Def Jam have done numbers in their first week that would have been equivalent to 300K in pure sales back when people actually purchased music and he recently completed his Incredible World Tour, which saw him playing to packed houses nightly.
In 2016 people don't have the patience they once did in the days when Def Jam used to take out ads in The Source and promote albums months out to build anticipation. Given people's attention spans now, anticipation only exists in short bursts, like when Kanye premiered his The Life of Pablo album at Madison Square Garden. Fans were anxious to cop the album but assumed that meant hours of waiting at most, not days or weeks (ok, maybe Pablo isn't the best example).
The success of Logic's mixtape release is further proof there are no rules anymore in selling music and the best, most time-tested approach to success is to just give the fans what they want—great music.