The prime album on the Billboard chart this week is Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti,” a streaming juggernaut that’s notching its fifth time at No. 1.
But simply as notable is what lands at No. 2: “Wasteland” by Brent Faiyaz, an R&B singer from Maryland who eschewed the major-label route and has launched his music independently, a path that often means incomes an even bigger slice of a smaller pie. After placing out songs final yr with visitor spots by Drake and Tyler, the Creator, Faiyaz launched “Wasteland” on July 8, with little advance discover. For the final week, the music trade has been targeted on Faiyaz to see if he couldn’t solely topple Bad Bunny — one of many standard-bearers for streaming-driven superstardom — but in addition carry out the uncommon feat of taking a completely unbiased challenge to No. 1.
“Wasteland” didn’t fairly make it to the summit. But it bought shut sufficient to make a press release that can absolutely be heard by each new artist considering accepting a major-label deal. “Un Verano Sin Ti” had the equal of 105,000 gross sales within the United States, together with 147 million streams, whereas “Wasteland” had 88,000 gross sales, together with 107 million streams, in keeping with the monitoring service Luminate. Weekly equal gross sales for “Un Verano” have by no means dipped beneath 100,000 since its launch in May, and it has racked up a complete of two billion streams within the U.S. alone.
Even although many artists as we speak management their recording rights, and will have labels or imprints of their very own, the vast majority of high-charting albums nonetheless cross by the major-label system. Each of the three international music conglomerates — Universal, Sony and Warner — function massive distribution arms focusing on releasing music by unbiased acts. Bad Bunny, for instance, could also be signed to Rimas Entertainment, an organization managed by his supervisor, however Rimas has a distribution deal with the Orchard, owned by Sony.
To launch “Wasteland,” Faiyaz went by Stem, one in every of a number of indie-distribution platforms. The final No. 1 album that bypassed the major-label infrastructure was “Skins” by the rapper XXXTentacion in late 2018, through the unbiased music firm Empire.
Also on the chart this week, Aespa, a four-woman Ok-pop group, opens at No. 3 with the mini-album “Girls,” which had 56,000 gross sales, principally as CDs. Harry Styles’s “Harry’s House” is No. 4 and Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” falls one spot to No. 5.