As surprising as you may find it that Drake‘s star-making mixtape So Far Gone is now ten years old, you may be even more floored with today’s news that, after a decade, the project is set to finally make its Billboard debut with a projected slot in the top five.
Confused? Let me explain.
Ten years ago was a very different time for the music industry. Mixtapes were the only way for artists to get the full vision of their creations out to fans without the red tape and clearances of traditional record labels. It was a direct pipeline and, in the pre-Soundcloud Era, artists often had to press the CD-Rs themselves and have their own channels circulate the product. Retailers like Virgin Megastore and Circuit City would only occasionally stock these, but because of the legal grey area that mixtapes existed in, wouldn’t report these sales to any larger music governing body.
This was also a time pre-Spotify, pre-Tidal, where streaming numbers didn’t count at all toward an artist’s sales. Not even YouTube was monetizing streams at this juncture. In fact, 2009 was the year many major labels went on rampant take-down missions to get all music that they carried off of the platform. This is why when you find songs from major label artists that were posted that year, they often has some weird distortion over the audio file, or a slight increase or decrease in speed to avoid detection.
This all officially changed in 2013 when it was redetermined that streams count toward album sales.
Last week Drake’s So Far Gone debuted on streaming services for the first time. Unlike the mixtape’s initial release, all the production was cleared and everything legally was on the up-and-up. As a result, everything about So Far Gone counted – for the first time – as a legal album release, and with all the hype/nostalgia surrounding it, allowed it to make a massive Billboard debut.