Kanye West’s album The Life of Pablo has achieved platinum certification just based on streaming performance. The album, which was released in February 2016, has reached 1.5 billion streams in the U.S., enough to attain platinum certification from the RIAA. The Life of Pablo was briefly available for sale on West’s website, but those sales only contributed 0.7% of units for the album and the platinum performance was reached without the download numbers.
The Life of Pablo was one of the early examples of 2016’s trend of artists exploring alternate distribution approaches to their work. Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book was the first streaming exclusive to break into the top 10 on the Billboard 200. It also won the Grammy for best rap album, and Chance the Rapper secured the best new artist award. These successes are further evidence that streaming is an established distribution platform for the music industry.