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Spotify's Most-Streamed List Is Free Of Surprises

Ed Sheeran performs onstage during 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2017. Spotify reports Sheeran is the most-streamed artist of 2017.
Kevin Winter
Getty Images for iHeartMedia
Ed Sheeran performs onstage during 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2017. Spotify reports Sheeran is the most-streamed artist of 2017.

The numbers are in. Spotify has released its year-end round up of the most-listened to music on its platform, revealing new leaders in a sea of familiarity.

Ed Sheeran was Spotify's most-streamed artist of 2017; the U.K. singer's 2017 album÷ (Divide) was streamed 3.1 billion times, with the album's lead single, "Shape Of You," pulling in 1.4 billion streams worldwide. (Streams of an album's singles, in aggregate, contribute to the album's total count.) "Shape Of You" have now surpassed Drake's 2016 hit "One Dance" as the most-streamed song in the platform's history, dethroning the Canadian rapper, who was atop the streaming services data in 2016. This year marks the second time Sheeran has earned the title of 'most-streamed artist,' the last time being back in 2014 when his X (Multiply) album was released.

Drake, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and The Chainsmokers round out the top five most-streamed artists of the year, knocking female artists completely out (Rihanna was the only woman to make the top five overall, last year.) The top five most-streamed women were: Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and Sia. (Despite not dropping an album this year, 2017 marks the third year in a row Rihanna earns the top spot among women, while Sia and Grande have spots in the top five for a second year in a row.)

The most-streamed groups of the year are Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Linkin Park and Migos.

As far as emerging talent, Spotify's field of breakout artists of the year is filled with former band members and viral sensations: ex-Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello, ex-One Directioners Harry Styles and Liam Payne, respectively, Florida rapper Lil Pump and Ohio rapper Trippie Redd. Lil Pump's repetitive and infectious hit "Gucci Gang," originally a SoundCloud release, was streamed 178.48 million times to date while Trippie Redd's melancholy "Love Scars" was streamed 31.4 million times.

The real Cinderella story throughout all this year's data is the surge of Spanish-language music. Spotify reports that streaming of Latin music increased by 110 percent this year, with two Latin tracks, "Despacito" and "Mi Gente," both hitting No. 1 on Spotify for the first time in the service's history. Back in July, "Despacito" became the most-streamed song ever, but most of its plays --- 2.6 billion --- came from fans watching the YouTube video rather than streaming the track on Spotify. Now, "Despacito (Remix)" featuring Justin Bieber is Spotify's No. 2 most-streamed track of the year, followed by the original version at No. 3.

Spotify reports that the most-streamed day of the year was June 13, 2017 as opposed to last year's most-streamed day, November 11, 2016. Though this date may seem like an unsuspecting Tuesday, Spotify's trends expert Shanon Cook tells NPR that warmer weather is the main factor that contributes to it being a standout on the calendar.

"We find as the weather improves across the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world in June, many listeners have a renewed interest in listening to music that compliments a summer vibe," Cook says.

As a company, Spotify has taken some wins and losses this year. In June, the service was forced to pay a $43 million settlement in a class action suit brought against them by songwriters — a problem that seems to have little hope of simply going away. Taylor Swift meanwhile, amended her previously acrimonious relationship to the company, bringing that catalog back to streaming services (the singer made her most recent album, reputation, available to stream three weeks after its release). The next year will be an important one for the Swedish company, as it plans to publicly list its stock at a total valuation estimated between $16 and $20 billion. Its equity holders — which include all of the major labels — will likely make a mint on the move.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sidney Madden is a reporter and editor for NPR Music. As someone who always gravitated towards the artforms of music, prose and dance to communicate, Madden entered the world of music journalism as a means to authentically marry her passions and platform marginalized voices who do the same.