yes, but Radiohead had years to build the hype that was the pay what you want release of In Rainbows. This time last year nobody knew who this guy was or that he even existed.
I see your point, free has been done before successfully but I think it's a crappy analogy. Radiohead was pretty big when they put out In Rainbows...when The Weeknd put out house of balloons nobody really knew what to expect or had a previous release.
The real point here is that after House of Balloons, The Weeknd were unavoidable - everyone knew him. They even talked about him in mags like People and Ent Weekly and shit like that. The hype has been building for almost a year. You also have to take into account their association and endorsement from Drake, who is one of the biggest commercial names in music. All of that coupled with the fact he makes GREAT music, it's kind of a no-brainer that he gets that many dls and exposure. Having said that, my point was really speaking to your comment about the industry itself - - - everyone in the "industry" knows about The Weeknd, trust me. And if they don't, they either a. don't have a pulse or b. should be fired.
That's be like you saying that The Weeknd hasn't had offers from major labels yet because they don't know about him. That's completely ludicrous.
Not trying to attack you here, either. Just commenting.