In a world full of streaming, there are more and more opportunities for the numerical analysis of listening habits. The latest such study, courtesy of 538, compares the impact of a Drake feature verse to that of a feature from his two pals/labelmates, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj. Drake and Nicki appeared on a comparable number of albums during the course of their careers—63 vs. 62. On average, the songs with Nicki were streamed 172% more than non-Nicki song, while Drake-assisted tunes only received a 126% bump. (Wayne's bump is a mere 21%, so he falls out of the picture.)
To better estimate these effects, 538 then compared the songs with guest verses to other popular songs on the album (so a big single isn’t being stacked up against, for example, an interlude or outro). Again, Nicki came out on top: the most-streamed songs with her verses were listened to 46% more often than the other most-streamed songs from the 62 albums she appeared on. For Drake, the comparable number was 25%.
Surprisingly, some songs with Nicki and Drake did not attract the most clicks, so these were compared with other album tracks that attracted roughly the same level of attention. In this grouping, a Drake feature actually appeared to have a negative impact on a song’s stream-ability. While Nicki’s features still increased a less popular song’s prospects of being clicked on by 55%, a Drake verse on a less popular song dropped its listens by more than 20%.
Streaming doesn't take place in a vacuum; as the article points out, the two stars take very different approaches to their features. Big Nicki bumps, for example, often occur on dancefloor friendly cuts that achieve crossover success, notably David Guetta’s “Hey Mama” and Jessie J’s “Bang Bang”—which also benefited from an Ariana Grande bump and high profile performances at the Jingle Ball and the VMA’s.
Drake is known for working with (or stealing the spotlight from) young up-and-comers who have less institutional support when he collaborates with them, so it’s likely that label budgets and radio play also factor into his numbers in different ways. Demographics probably do as well: though Drake gave a negligible bump to the Spotify streaming of Romeo Santos’ “Odio,” his appearance on that song likely contributed to its record-setting Billboard chart achievements.
Several of both stars’ biggest bumps come from recent efforts like the David Guetta song, Nicki’s team-up with Beyoncé, or Drake’s verse on Future’s “Where Ya At.” The feature impact may become an increasingly important factor going forward.