Drake’s Label Wanted “Free Smoke” to Be a Single From ‘More Life’
The release of Drake's More Life playlist led to a quandary for radio stations. Music directors needed to figure out what the project's next single would be since it all arrived at once. As it turned out, fans ended up decided what became the official single despite Drake's label attempting to dictate the direction.
Emmanuel Coquia, the music director for Power 106 in Los Angeles, revealed that Republic Records was pushing programmers to focus on Drake's "Free Smoke" for airplay upon the release of More Life. Coquia and many others did not go with Republic's suggestion though, instead opting to play "Passionfruit" heavily on their airwaves. Coquia told Buzzfeed that "Passionfruit" was outperforming "Free Smoke" on services like Spotify and Shazam, which led him to reject Republic's suggestion.
“If there’s something that we see or hear that has that buzz, we run with it,” Coquia said.
The popularity of "Passionfruit" forced Republic, which distributes Drake's label Cash Money Records, to completely change their mindset. Coquia said his contacts at the label told him their campaign for "Free Smoke" was over just two weeks after it began. Instead, their new priority was "Passionfruit" and "Portland."
“It’s almost like there’s no such thing as a priority on an album anymore,” Coquia concluded. “It’s just ‘What song is making the most noise?’”
The same thing happened with Future's two singles off FUTURE. His label Epic Records wanted to push "Draco" and even put money behind a video for it, but the fans chose "Mask Off," and now the latter is one of Future's biggest records to date.
The new ways of consuming music are changing how music is promoted, especially for artists like Drake, who are breaking records with each new release.
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