Chance the Rapper’s ‘The Big Day’ Comes Free With a … Lyft Ride?
Rapper partners with Lyft to give out free copies of his album, becoming the latest artist to boost chart numbers with music-product bundles
UPDATE: Following the publication of this article, Chance the Rapper tweeted, “This is unfair. Its [sic] not a bundle. If you ride lyft or drive lyft you get a FREE copy. It doesn’t register as a sale.” While Billboard announced Monday that the free albums will not track onto the Billboard 200 because that chart rejects gifted downloads, the downloads, which a Lyft spokesperson says are still being tallied, are still bundled entries eligible for other charts, including the Rolling Stone 200 Albums chart. Each music chart applies its unique methodology to compilations of sales, streams and downloads.
Chance the Rapper unveiled his debut studio album The Big Day last Friday and has been busy spreading the news in every direction ever since. The Chicago rapper announced a 35-date touron Monday after releasing the LP on all major streaming services and performing at a Spotify-hosted album release party to kick things off. Over the weekend, Chance also made his album available as a free download to a seemingly random demographic: users of the ride-sharing app Lyft.
Anyone taking a Lyft ride from Friday to Monday can receive a link to download The Big Day for free, Lyft wrote in a blog post Friday. All Lyft drivers are eligible to receive the free download as well. Austin Schumacher, Lyft’s head of culture and entertainment, said in the blog post that “from cassette tapes to passing the aux cord, music and driving have always gone hand in hand, and we wanted to create a new in-car experience,” adding that the partnership with Chance grew out of a prior Lyft/Chance effort to support Chicago Public Schools in 2018, in which the rapper went undercover as a driver. To download the album, users click on a link that appears in their “Notifications” tab in the Lyft app.
What the blog post doesn’t mention is that The Big Day arriving free alongside a Lyft ride isn’t just a fun perk for music fans — it’s also a strategy to quietly take Chance to the top of the charts. So-called “album bundles,” in which albums are offered for free within the purchase of concert tickets and other consumer products, have been soaring in popularity in recent months because they effectively boost artists’ sales figures at no cost to listeners. (When they’re are offered digitally, labels and artists don’t incur much of a loss, either.)
Earlier this year, new albums from both DJ Khaled and Tyler, the Creator were released with highly promoted merchandise bundles — DJ Khaled’s paired with energy drinks and Tyler’s with T-shirts, stickers, and lawn signs — which caused ruckus around the Number One spot on the charts as the industry debated whether to accept these entries as legitimate music sales. Other major artists like Travis Scott, the Backstreet Boys, Bon Jovi, and Taylor Swift, whose website is currently accepting advance orders for her unreleased album paired with hoodies and T-shirts, have also been big bundlers.
But Chance, whose last mixtape album Coloring Book already shook things up in the music business in 2016 by getting all the way to the Grammys without making any sales, is adding another layer to the discussion by bundling The Big Day with an entirely different kind of product. Reps for Lyft and Chance did not reply to requests on how many free downloads have been claimed via the partnership so far. Lyft’s blog post says the link to download the album for free will be available until Monday July 29th, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Big Day will begin tracking on the Rolling Stone Albums 200 chart — one of Rolling Stone‘s newly launched music charts, powered by independent analytics firm Alpha Data — next week.