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Spotify reveals biggest artists of its first ten years

By | Published on Thursday 11 October 2018


Spotify turns ten years old this week. That’s right, ten whole years of streaming goodness. Remember the whole ‘access’ v ‘ownership’ debate? Lovely Roberta? The ‘will the labels ever let them launch freemium in the US’ chatter? The Thom Yorke ‘last desperate fart’ moment? The weird but short-lived Facebook love-in? Happy days! Anyway, what do birthdays mean? That’s right: stats. And to that end, the streaming service has revealed the ten most-streamed acts, tracks and albums from its first decade in business.

The most striking thing about the various lists is the lack of women. Just two – Rihanna and Ariana Grande – feature in the top ten most-streamed acts list, there are none in the albums chart, and the two women in the tracks list are guest vocalists on records put out by men.

Of course two of the biggest female artists of the last decade – Taylor Swift and Adele – have both been famous Spotify hold-outs at various points during that time. But nevertheless, the lack of gender diversity is depressing. Indeed, so few women are there on Spotify’s big birthday lists that it has also put out an additional women-only top ten.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, your best buddy Ed Sheeran comes out near the top of all three of the main lists. He is only beaten to the number one spot in the most-streamed acts list by that pesky Drake dude. Justin Bieber also does pretty damn well too – also unsurprisingly, I guess – and particularly so on the songs list, where he appears on three tracks that appear one after the other, albeit in the latter half of the top ten.

Having put out those various new charts – and then presumably guzzled down on some fine cake covered in green icing – Spotify also put together some handy lists of information we already knew, but which we can now look back at with nostalgic glee. That includes the most popular track for each of its first ten years and the first ten acts to reach one billion streams and the year they achieved it – Rihanna getting there first in 2013.

Those who prefer their statistics in the form of big numbers rather than lists of pop stars also got a birthday treat as the streaming firm issued a statement about the landmark. “We now have 180 million monthly active listeners across 65 countries”, it said. “And as of 31 Aug 2018, we have paid over ten billion euros to rights holders since launch”.

“Music fans on Spotify can enjoy our music library of over 40 million songs and podcasts, and three billion-plus user-created playlists”, it mused on. “And to date, over 2000 genres have been identified on Spotify, among them wonky (electronic music characterised by synths with unusual time signatures), shimmer pop (a Swedish cousin of indie pop and indietronica), and British blues (the blues… with a British flavour)”.

If you prefer your statistics in the form of super duper fuck off massive numbers, well listen up to this one: the total amount of time users have spent playing stuff on Spotify over the last decade is 16,858,080 years. Which is quite a lot.

Of course by this point some in the music community will be mumbling that all those impressive stats are good news for the pop stars that filled those top ten lists – them getting the most streams and therefore most of the money – but that that’s not much help for everyone else.

Perhaps aware of that, Spotify finished its stats splurge by insisting that its users are listening to a more diverse range of music. Users have been listening to – on average – 8% more artists each year, with a 40% increase in the last three years since personalised playlists like Discover Weekly were introduced.

Which is lovely. Except, of course, as the headline stats show, among the most popular acts at least, this diversity of listening does not extend to gender diversity. And now here’s a playlist featuring all the mainly man-made music in these lists. Though if everyone now tunes into that, that’s not going to help improve any gender stats in the short term.

Top-streamed artists of all time:
1. Drake
2. Ed Sheeran
3. Eminem
4. The Weeknd
5. Rihanna
6. Kanye West
7. Coldplay
8. Justin Bieber
9. Calvin Harris
10. Ariana Grande

Most-streamed songs of all time:
1. Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You
2. Drake – One Dance
3. The Chainsmokers & Halsey – Closer
4. Post Malone feat 21 Savage – Rockstar
5. Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
6. Major Lazer, MØ, DJ Snake – Lean On
7. Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber – Despacito (Remix)
8. Justin Bieber – Love Yourself
9. Justin Bieber – Sorry
10. The Chainsmokers – Don’t Let Me Down

Most-streamed albums globally
1. Ed Sheeran – Divide
2. Justin Bieber – Purpose
3. Drake – Views
4. Ed Sheeran – Multiply
5. Post Malone – Beerbongs & Bentleys
6. The Weeknd – Starboy
7. Drake – Scorpion
8. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
9. Post Malone – Stoney
10. Kendrick Lamar – Damn

Most-streamed female artists globally
1. Rihanna
2. Ariana Grande
3. Sia
4. Beyonce
5. Nicki Minaj
6. Adele
7. Taylor Swift
8. Selena Gomez
9. Katy Perry
10. Shakira

Top globally streamed song by year
2008: The Killers – “Human”
2009: The Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling”
2010: Eminem, Rihanna – “Love The Way You Lie”
2011: Don Omar – “Danza Kuduro”
2012: Gotye – “Somebody That I Used To Know” (feat. Kimbra)
2013: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “Can’t Hold Us” (feat. Ray Dalton)
2014: Pharrell Williams – “Happy” – From “Despicable Me 2”
2015: Major Lazer – “Lean On” (feat. MØ & DJ Snake)
2016: Drake – “One Dance”
2017: Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”

First ten artists to reach one billion streams
1. Rihanna (2013)
2. David Guetta (2013)
3. Eminem (2013)
4. Kanye West (2014)
5. Avicii (2014)
6. Coldplay (2014)
7. JAY Z (2014)
8. Katy Perry (2014)
9. Drake (2014)
10. Pitbull (2014)