The Life of Pablo isn’t just the first Kanye West album since The College Dropout that didn’t debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. It’s the first Kanye West album that didn’t chart in its first week at all.
After a chaotic rollout involving a listening party at Madison Square Garden, The Life of Pablo finally saw a Tidal release on February 14. The only problem is that it’s only been officially released on Tidal—and Tidal isn’t sharing any numbers with the agencies that calculate album sales.
West has made it clear on Twitter that the album will stay a Tidal exclusive in a push to drive subscriptions to the streaming service where he’s a stakeholder alongside Jay Z. So far, the strategy seems to be working: TMZ reports that Tidal subscriptions have doubled since The Life of Pablo was released.
But the boost in subscriptions comes at the expense of West’s presence on the Billboard charts, where he’s dominated with every release since his debut record in 2004. According to a statement issued by Billboard, “Billboard has been informed that Tidal is not currently reporting streams for tracks on Kanye’s album to Nielsen Music. Therefore streams from Tidal for this title will not contribute to Billboard’s chart rankings at this time.”
Until West releases his new music to competing platforms, it looks like The Life of Pablo’s success will be hard to quantify—unless you’re counting the 500,000 illegal downloads in the first two days after its release.