Drake released Take Care before he toured to promote it - did he make a mistake?

Drake’s college campus tour with Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky is in the books, but should it have gone down in the first place?

Take Care is Drake’s second studio album. It follows in the footsteps of Thank Me Later, his breakout LP which enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and a #1 debut on the Billboard charts. That’s the definition of “arriving,” momentum Drake capitalized on with a healthy mid-2010 college tour to reciprocate some goodwill to his most rabid fans, and solidify his image as a sort of “grassroots star” in the process.

All good, up ’til the point he scheduled Round 2 of the college circuit in 2011 – with 6 more shows spanning the two weeks surrounding Take Care’s November 15th, 2011 release date.

But why?

1,000 True Fans

As dhoward1387 of akahiphop pointed out:

Drake is one of my favorite artists… but if he wants his album to do large numbers like Wayne it would’ve been a better idea to do a major tour before his album drops….. Kendrick Lamar is worthy of a tour mate but I don’t think ASAP ROCKY is deserving yet. It seems like Drake is doing this tour to help their careers and not really benefiting his own.

One thing is clear: Drake’s commitment to fan connection is admirable. He’s grooming lifetime fans on the college circuit, cultivating loyalty instead of cashing in on it. And that’s precisely the strategy behind the 1,000 True Fans Theory, which suggests artists can make a living by collecting 1,000 “True Fans” who will buy everything they release. This theory has proven to be a successful model for independent acts – “blog bands,” if you must – seeking recognition and financial security. For artists who never produce a hit or land a sponsorship deal, the reliability of their fans’ frenzied support is literally what pays the bills. It allows them to avoid living album-to-album, the exact same way many live paycheck-to-paycheck.

But Drake’s bills are paid, and Drake’s “True Fanbase” eclipses that 1,000 benchmark by an order of magnitude. It’s time to take advantage of that star power.

Thinking Small, Wasting Big?

With incredible momentum and name recognition leading up to his sophomore release, Drake must play large venues to push sales. His brand awareness is rock-solid, but might be plateauing: when millions of people know you only for your singles, it’s less valuable to grow your army by handfuls than it is to convince the pre-enamored masses that the rest of your songs are also worth purchasing.

We understand it’s part of Drake’s MO to show love for people who got him there, but he’s already built up enough goodwill with those fans that an intense promotional tour for Take Care wouldn’t have compromised anybody’s perception of him. Drake’s got to take advantage of his reputation’s hardy shelf life by making his money when his albums come out. True fans understand that an artist deserves to see his payday – the time for more personal engagements is well after album hooplah dies down.

Instead, Drake’s touring schedule surrounding Take Care is lackluster: 6 college shows, plus 8 large-venue dates scheduled between now and the end of the year. That’s 14 shows in the 3-month window from your album release date to the end of the year – half of them at venues with a capacity way smaller than his actual draw.

Not only is that simply not road time, there’s no coherent plan behind the tour, either. Want to cultivate rabid loyalty by tapping the college market? Play 40 college shows. Want a successful album? Play 25 of the largest houses you can pack. Either way, pick a focus for your tour and stick to it.

We only want to see good people get paid, so we ask this: by shooting small in the months before and after his album release, is Drake leaving some of his hard-earned cash in our pockets? Or is he executing some master plan our feeble minds can’t comprehend?

(Asks the blogger to the millionaire.)