During the four days following the release of Drake’s Views on April 29, Twitter has been flooded with the fans’ excitement about the new album.There were 3,828,931 tweets around Views in that period, most of them original tweets, not retweets, in what seems to be an attempt by users and fans to express themselves individually about the Canadian cultural phenomenon.
Is this an expression of individualistic behavior in social media? It could be.
But it could also be part of the attempt by many users on these media to control the message and its diffusion by being the first ones to ‘talk’ and that way to provoke cascades of the same type of messages afterwards. However, at least in the first few hours, not a single user is monopolizing the exchange.
Our data shows that none of the top users have reached the 1,000-tweet mark and that the whole communication is widely distributed: this makes it a very powerful network.
Drake is not in the list of top users during this period. Keep in mind that Drake’s official Twitter account goes by the name of Drizzy (@Drake) and has 32.3 million followers. Imagine the amount of retweets that would have followed an intense campaign using his personal account.
Why not to use it?
Because he does not need it. He is already the centre of the conversation and does not need to risk his prestige by using a bold and unwise marketing technique based on self-promotion. Not that way. Top 10 users, and their total Tweet output four days after the release, included, uused2callme, 997 tweets; SpotifyCares, 598; Fukeverything, 488; td3mm5inm, 442; yusufyuie, 432; musicopenn, 392; banguza, 391; AlternativeJJ96, 377; hypem_charts, 373; and mp3audiomusics1, 335.
In terms of cultural reach, there are a few interesting categories: English is the top language used in the communication about Views over the four days following the release with 3,396,618 tweets; followed by French (118,567); Portuguese from Brazil (66,226); and Spanish (29,989). The most interesting number comes from Norway that has a population of just more than 5 million and produced 11,517 tweets.
If you put the language data along with the top countries during this initial Views frenzy, you will notice that so far this is a North American, and to some extent, European cultural affair. This correlates with the all-North American 2016 tour that Drake has prepared. Top 10 countries included, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal and Ghana.
To make it more precise, the south and east of Europe are almost immune to this epidemic so far. No signs from Spain, Italy or Greece, and little from the former Soviet countries.
What is interesting about the geographic distribution of tweets (which is not always representative of the whole population tweeting, as not many users allow their location to be tracked) is the presence of three African countries in the Top 10 list: South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana. But apart from Brazil, there is no significant presence of the Spanish Latin America. In Asia, beyond the Philippines, not a word from the big cultural powers: China, India, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.
This is very interesting because it shows the different cultural continents that globalization and technology are creating. These areas are defined by the ability of cultural products to travel across several borders, that is, languages, religions, markets, types of media and technology platforms, making it a much more complex world than the one we had when we just talked about countries as markets or cultures.
If you are a cultural producer such as Drake, you have to consider the local demographics –age, gender, interests, music preferences, recent competition by other artists, etc. – and design a product that strongly appeals to different groups belonging to those categories (maximum flexibility). When you start thinking beyond your local, you have to address the various borders that your creation will need to travel in order to get maximum spread (and profits). And Drake is the master at doing this and preserving a strong feeling of authenticity in his art.
When we get more data about sales in Apple Music and iTunes we will be able to compare sales and tweets to determine whether it is the case that the same people (cities, countries, languages) who talk in social media also are the people who purchase the music. However, it is clear that in a hybrid ecosystem (and all innovation spaces are hybrid) you need both the users (who spread the word) and the consumers (who produce the profits). Drake has them all.
Modern Languages and Literatures professor Juan Luis Suárez is Director of The CulturePlex Lab. Javier de la Rosa is a research associated in The CulturePlex Lab