Last week, for the first time in his career, Big Sean released a full-length album for stream and digital purchase only—physical copies of I Decided won't be available to the public until Friday, February 17. While CD sales have always been a huge first-week boost for Sean, according to a forecast by HDD, his SPS (sales plus streaming) total will still be somewhere in the neighborhood of 140-150k equivalent sales.
In an interview with The Breakfast Club on Thursday (February 9), Sean explained why he decided to not make I Decided available in hard copy at the same time the album was made available on streaming services and iTunes.
"I didn't do that because I didn't want it leaking," said Sean. "And I wanted to work on it as soon as possible. When you do physical albums, you gotta turn it in way before it go to the plants. I aint want to risk that."
We've covered the ordinary, boring truth behind how an album is leaked prior to its scheduled release date, so I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say, Sean's decision paid off. By foregoing a dual (physical and digital) release for I Decided, Sean was able to work on the album longer and sidestep a leak.
R&B singer-songwriter Sampha, who just released his album Process, wasn't as lucky—as a result of turning over his album for physical manufacturing, the 10-track LP leaked two weeks prior to its originally scheduled date.
Sean went on to explain that, for a physical release, an artist must turn over their album approximately one month before its scheduled release date. If the album is only going to be released on streaming services and for digital purchase, however, that timeframe shrinks to "a week or two."
While Sean certainly isn't the first big-name artist to opt for a staggered release—Drake, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar have all employed this strategy—as we move further into the peak streaming era, it's likely this practice will only rise in popularity.
By Z, who loves to argue with you on Twitter.
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