Billboard has a good piece today on the US launch campaign for Sam Smith’s debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’, and specifically the question of whether its Spotify holdout – it’s not been available to stream on the service – affected its sales positively or negatively. Of course, the accurate answer is nobody really knows, in the absence of a parallel universe where the album WAS streamable to compare against. But Billboard picks up on another point: Smith sold 166k units in his album’s first week, was beaten to number one in the US charts by Lana Del Rey’s 182k sales of her new album – and not only was that available to stream from launch, but it’s been one of the biggest albums on Spotify this year. Proof that holdouts are rubbish? Not quite: this is different artists, one an album further into their career, with different fanbases – not to mention Smith outselling Del Rey over the albums’ first three weeks. But note this quote from Del Rey’s manager Ben Mawson picking out the difference between the artists too: “For Sam Smith, I think it’s much more about radio. Lana is much more about the Internet. Streaming is a form of advertising, really.”

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