Apple Music has been the focus of numerous record-breaking reports in recent weeks, and the latest comes from rapper J. Cole after he broke the service's record for most album streams in the first 24 hours in the United States. In total, subscribers streamed J. Cole's fifth album "KOD" 64.5 million times on Friday, April 20, surpassing Drake's "Views" -- the previous record holder -- by almost 1 million streams.
Apple reported the numbers to The Verge, also stating that seven of the top 10 most streamed songs in a 24-hour period on Apple Music are all from "KOD." In total, Apple Music represented 66 percent of first-day streams for "KOD" in the U.S. and 60 percent worldwide, edging out streaming competitors like Spotify in terms of streams for J. Cole's latest album.
Earlier in April, Cardi B broke Apple Music's record for most first-week streams by a female artist, surpassing 100 million streams. The rapper's numbers grew so rapidly after "Invasion of Privacy" launched that she beat Taylor Swift's streaming record, launching the album into Apple Music's fifth most-streamed album ever.
As Apple Music continues to grow, one analyst predicted that the service will keep up its progress and average 40 percent growth each year for the next three years. Apple Music currently sits at just over 40 million subscribers, so analyst Ben Schachter's prediction puts the streaming music service at over 100 million paid subscribers sometime in 2021. Given Apple Music's steady growth, that milestone could happen even sooner.
J. Cole's success with "KOD" follows Carl Chery's exit from Apple Music to Spotify. As head of hip-hop programming, Chery was instrumental in garnering success for Apple Music in the hip-hop/rap genres, helping to discover artists like Khalid, 6LACK, and Post Malone. At Spotify, Chery will reportedly work on the service's RapCaviar playlist and bolster Spotify's hip-hop presence in much the same way as he did for Apple Music.
In a separate report from Variety this morning, Apple is said to be gearing up for a bigger push into country music by moving Apple Music's Jay Liepis to Nashville. In the city, Liepis will lead a team "dedicated to being more involved with artists, managers, songwriters and the label community at large." Later in 2018, Apple will open an office in Nashville with the hopes of keeping "an eye on closer relations" with the country music industry, as well as other genres growing out of Nashville, including rock, pop, Christian/gospel, Americana, and hip-hop.