NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 31: BTS performs during the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2020 … [+]
It is perhaps the understatement of the year to say BTS’s Map of the Soul: 7 is going to be a big hit. The Korean pop septet’s new album has sold a reported 4 million global preorders, its accompanying tour has produced numerous North American sellouts, and the group has several prestigious talk show appearances slated for next week. Map of the Soul: 7 should easily earn BTS their fourth consecutive No. 1 album in the United States, and more specifically, it should give the group its best streaming week for an album to date.
BTS topped the Billboard 200 with each of their last three albums: 2018’s Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer, and 2019’s Map of the Soul: Persona. Each album’s overall debut sales improved dramatically over its predecessor, with Tear moving 135,000 album-equivalent units, Answer moving 185,000 units and Persona moving 232,000 units. Yet most of those gains came from traditional album sales, while streaming-equivalent albums held steady at 25,000-26,000 per release. Taken at face value, those figures might not look encouraging for Map of the Soul: 7’s streaming bow. Dig into the particulars of BTS’s last album and their upcoming album, though, and it’s clear why the group is poised to earn a much bigger streaming week this time.
Yesterday, BTS’s management company, Big Hit Entertainment, revealed the Map of the Soul: 7 tracklist. The album clocks in at nearly 75 minutes and will contain 20 songs, including five off Persona and 15 new tracks. Map of the Soul: 7 is tailor-made for the streaming era, giving diehard BTS fans plenty of new music to digest while benefiting off passive listeners who play the album in its entirety. Streaming-equivalent albums play a huge role in overall album sales these days, and this methodology rewards longer albums even without considering the actual content of the songs. Compare Map of the Soul: 7’s 20-song tracklist to Persona’s seven-song tracklist, and it’s easy to see that one casual playthrough of 7 equates to nearly triple the streaming-equivalent albums of Persona. Even if BTS maintained the exact same number of listeners as when they released Persona, it stands to reason that they would rack up more streams from casual listeners who played the album in full in the background. Of course, those 4 million global preorders suggest that even more people will be tuning in for this album than their last one.
On Map of the Soul: 7, BTS will also employ a strategy that served them well on Persona: the high-profile pop star collaboration. Last year, the Halsey-assisted “Boy with Luv” gave BTS their highest Billboard Hot 100 placement to date, peaking at No. 8. This time, avant-garde pop powerhouse Sia will lend her talents to the album’s lead single “ON.” Based on responses to Big Hit’s tracklist announcement, fans are ecstatic about the partnership, which is also sure to attract casual listeners who want to hear what the global stars can come up with together.
There’s one more crucial factor that will all but guarantee Map of the Soul: 7 grants BTS their best streaming week ever: YouTube views. As of Jan. 3, YouTube video and audio are now factored into the Billboard 200 albums chart. That’s excellent news for BTS, who habitually break 24-hour YouTube records with their music videos. “Boy with Luv” currently holds the record with 74.6 million first-day views, and the group could soar even higher this Friday with its new Kinetic Manifesto Film: Come Prima performed by BTS for Lead Single “ON.” Big Hit Entertainment revealed that the film, which “best depicts the concept of the lead single,” will serve as an official music video. (BTS’s comeback map previously seemed to indicate that the official music video would arrive on Feb. 28, while Come Prima would be something different. A second video is still slated for the 28th, but the label has not released details on it.) Excitement for an official music video could propel the Come Prima film to a record-breaking debut, but even if it doesn’t, its factoring into the Billboard 200 will assist in earning BTS their best streaming week for an album.
When BTS release Map of the Soul: 7 on Friday, spectators should expect to see coordinated efforts from fans to boost overall album sales and chart performance of individual songs. These efforts will include album purchases and track downloads, but they’ll also include streaming the album on repeat and adding it to playlists to loop at all hours. As BTS’s global stardom swells, their fans work even harder to boost their sales and streams—while casual fans continue to check out the group to see what all the buzz is about. Map of the Soul: 7 is on track to break numerous records for the group, and a career-high streaming week seems like a safe bet.
See BTS’s Map of the Soul: 7 tracklist below.
1. Intro : Persona
2. Boy With Luv (Feat. Halsey)
3. Make It Right
4. Jamais Vu
6. Interlude : Shadow
7. Black Swan
9. My Time
10. Louder than bombs
13. 00:00 (Zero O’Clock)
14. Inner Child
18. We are Bulletproof : the Eternal
19. Outro : Ego
20. ON (Feat. Sia)
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