On March 18, Drake released More Life, a 22-track album that he insists we call a "playlist."
It has been nine days since the project premiered, and in those nine days, DJBooth has published eight Drake- or More Life-related pieces of content, including a 1 Listen album review; news stories about the project's record-breaking stream totals, the rise of certain album-related keywords in Google Trends and a recap of his first week sales; a complete breakdown of all 41 of the album's key contributors; a definitive ranking of Drake's entire 10 project discography; and op-eds about the success of Drake's release strategy (calling it a "playlist") and the transformation of his persona as result of extreme paranoia.
Is that a lot of content about one artist and one project? Sure, but we're talking about Drake—the biggest recording artist in the world not named Adele or Beyoncé.
Still, that didn't stop some readers from weighing in with their thoughts on our decision to double down on Drake content the week following the release of More Life.
Brian might think he understands how this whole publishing game operates, but there's more here than meets the tweet.
Unlike many of the rap artists that we cover on DJBooth—oh, hey Kid Cudi—I love receiving honest, constructive criticism and feedback about our content from our readers. In my mind, if someone takes the time to reach out via social media or e-mail to share their thoughts—something most companies have to pay focus groups to do for them—it's important to listen to what they have to say and provide a response.
Whereas most publications would have ignored Brian's tweet, labeling his commentary as nothing more than the sarcastic musings of an online troll, I saw it as a great jumping off point for, ironically, more Drake content.
To be clear, though, this article isn't really about Drake—it's about helping our readers better understand our editorial decisions and about dispelling the myth that every editorial decision is framed around stacking pageviews in the neverending quest to earn advertising revenue.
Setting aside the fact that he is the most popular artist in music, which by itself is reason enough to extensively cover his work, Drake is an extremely polarizing figure. Connecting the dots: the more polarizing the subject, the stronger the reader opinion, and if the reader has a strong opinion, they are more likely to click through and read the article. This is Publishing 101.
Besides being popular and polarizing, Drake is also super interesting and, for the most part, has made a ton of fantastic music. It's easy to find a variety of ways to write about an artist when they check all of these boxes. However, since the creation of art and the popularity of an artist are directly tied to receiving criticism and hatred—yes, there's a difference—it's no surprise that, much like the music itself, our coverage of Drake's career has plenty of vocal detractors.
Part of this equation is that people genuinely dislike Drake, but the other part is the belief that repeated Drake content is just an exercise in milking readers for ad dollars.
Of course, Drake is "good for business," which helps us to pay the talented writers who craft the content you read on the site, but our coverage of his work on DJBooth, like every other artist, is never solely based on generating SEO-driven, empty pageviews. If we produced headlines like, "Drake Got A Giant Tattoo Of Sade's Face And The Internet Is Clowning Him For It," "Drake: Why He Loves Being Connected To Jennifer Lopez, Sade & More A-List Stars" or "Drake uses crying emoji and photo of sad LeBron to announce he’ll be in Toronto for Game 4"—and yes, in case you're wondering, those are all actual headlines—reader backlash would be expected since the content wouldn't be providing any real value to the reader.
Drake content doesn't just help to satisfy Drake's fans and haters, though, it also has the unique ability to pull in readers to the site who otherwise might not have paid us a visit. As a result, this means that we can write about Saba's 22-year-old manager, radio being broken, the impact of big data in the streaming era and how Frank Ocean's music helped my daughter to fall asleep—all topics that are nowhere near as sexy as Drake—knowing full well that once someone is done reading about the potential end of Peak Drake, they might stick around a little bit longer and dive into additional content.
The internet, by and large, has turned into a vapid wasteland of fake news, 10-second videos and memes, but our editorial team will remain committed to producing Grade A content. As our competitors continue to double up on click bait bullshit, we've doubled down on our writing staff and the number of original, long-form features we produce every week. No, we don't always get it right—in fact, we fuck up from time-to-time—but our readers know that they'll never come across gossip, slideshows, lists with two lines of text or intrusive advertising when they're browsing our pages.
Like Drake, we're all a work in progress.
Art Credit: Cristian Leonel