Spotify at 10: men dominate streaming service's most-played artists

Sheeran’s single Shape of You is the music platform’s most-streamed song since it launched

Spotify has revealed the most-streamed artists in the platform’s 10-year history. Drake, followed by Ed Sheeran and Eminem lead its rankings – while Rihanna and Ariana Grande are the only women in its top 10 list.

The streaming giant, which launched in Sweden, the UK, France, Spain and Norway in October 2008, has also listed its users’ favourite songs and albums. It named Sheeran’s 2017 single Shape of You as its most-played track. Sheeran’s 2014 single Thinking Out Loud also features, in fifth place. Drake’s 2016 single One Dance comes second, while the Chainsmokers’ Closer, also released in 2016, comes in third.

Justin Bieber effectively has three tracks in the top 10. He features on Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s 2017 Despacito remix (coming in at 7), and as a solo artist with Love Yourself (8) and Sorry (9).

No female artists have songs in the top 10, however Rihanna became the first artist to reach 1bn streams on Spotify, in 2013. She is the most-streamed female artist globally, followed by Ariana Grande and Sia. Adele and Taylor Swift’s initial resistance to putting their music on Spotify may have contributed to their respective placings at six and seven.

Spotify’s third most-streamed artist of all time ... Eminem performs at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, June 2018.
Spotify’s third most-streamed artist ... Eminem performs at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, June 2018. Photograph: C Flanigan/WireImage

Spotify’s survey of most-streamed albums likewise features no female artists. Sheeran’s 2017 album ÷ leads Justin Bieber’s Purpose and Drake’s Views. Sheeran’s x (4) and Drake’s Scorpion (7), released this year, give them each a second appearance.

The lack of women on Spotify’s 10-year streaming charts correlates with recent research by Baffler critic Liz Pelly, who found the platform’s “most popular and visible playlists to be staggeringly male-dominated”.

Spotify’s high-profile editorial playlists are immensely powerful. A high placement on a playlist such as Rap Caviar or New Music Friday can change a song’s fortunes. Playlist culture has also changed song structure, with verses and choruses hitting sooner to avoid being skipped by listeners.

Pelly concluded that the platform’s algorithmic recommendations meant that “when a user listens to mostly male-dominated playlists, what is produced are yet more male-dominated playlists”.

The platform’s anniversary coincides with new research by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry that found that 38% of consumers still obtain music through illegal means.

Spotify has 180 million monthly active users in 65 countries, whose combined time spent listening to its 40m-plus songs and podcasts and more than 3bn playlists totals 16,858,080 years. The number of artists the average user streams per month has risen on Spotify at an annual average of about 8%.

When the service launched a decade ago, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida was the opening month’s most-streamed track and their album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends the most-streamed album. Newcomer Lady Gaga was the biggest artist.


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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