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Why Did Drake’s “Hotline Bling” Fail To Top Billboard Charts? Blame Apple Music

Apple Music, where Drake’s video for “Hotline Bling” made its debut, has yet to share its video view data with Nielsen Music.

Why Did Drake’s “Hotline Bling” Fail To Top Billboard Charts? Blame Apple Music
[Photo: John Steel via Shutterstock]

When the video for “Hotline Bling” dropped last week and sent the Internet into a tizzy, it only solidified the heady success of Drake’s hit track. Since its release in July, the song has dominated Facebook and Twitter and spawned memes and countless GIFs, spilling over into real life faster than even “Call Me Maybe.”

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So why isn’t “Hotline Bling” number one on the Billboard Hot 100? Turns out it’s Apple’s fault.

The “Hotline Bling” video originally debuted on Apple Music, due to the exclusive deal Drake inked with the company. While Apple has been eager to promote the hell out of its new streaming service and use its founders’ industry clout to reel in popular artists like Drake, the company was slower to move on one minor detail: sharing its video view data with Nielsen Music. So views of the original, Apple-hosted version of the video didn’t count toward Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, which is usually tallied using data from Nielsen. “Hotline Bling” climbed up to the number two spot, but failed to give Drake his first number one hit.

Similarly, Apple Music has yet to provide its streaming numbers to music analytics companies like Next Big Sound, or integrate with smart speakers like Sonos–though it is currently working to make both music and video streaming data available to third parties.

It’s hard to imagine that “Hotline Bling” wouldn’t have otherwise topped the Billboard chart. But such is the cost of getting into bed with Apple, which is eager to bring superstars like Drake out on stage for product launches, but is slower to integrate its new service with the rest of the music industry.

For Drake, the miss may be a dent in his ego, but don’t shed a tear for the mega-star: He raked in a reported $19 million from his deal with Apple. And whether the data backs it up or not, we all know who owned the Internet last week–well, up until Adele stormed the Internet with “Hello” on Friday.

About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things.

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