HITS Daily Double


WORLDWIDE AND WIDENING: 2022 marked yet another vital convergence in the biz: the further globalization of music illuminated by easy access to Spotify’s worldwide numbers—providing an entirely new perspective on undeniable shifts in the marketplace. Latin music and K-pop not only threw off huge numbers on the streaming front but made enormous strides on the live side, and Paul Tollett-led Coachella’s choice of ’22 album champ Bad Bunny and new stadium headliner BLACKPINK to top its 2023 bill was an unequivocal nod to these trends—as was the addition of ROSALÍA, Kali Uchis and Becky G, to name a few developing acts, to the undercard.

As of this writing there were 25 Latin tracks in the Spotify global Top 100, and as we assess global activity we should point out that the top tracks in Mexico and Brazil are earning north of 1 million daily Spotify streams. Expect that activity to grow and for Spanish- and Portuguese-language songs (not to mention K-pop) to take up even more real estate on DSP charts in the coming years.

ALGORITHM AND BLUES: Sir Lucian Grainge’s January letter to the troops includes some compelling criticism of the streaming marketplace, notably unfair exploitation of the “pro rata” DSP payout structure and other misuses of the algorithm. This era’s divide, he says, is “between those committed to investing in artists and artist development versus those committed to gaming the system through quantity over quality.” What might the new “artist-centric model” he calls for look like?

POST-CHRISTMAS CHEER: Those challenges aside, even as holiday music exerted its predictable force on the DSP charts, year-end streaming stats showed several acts breaking through the noise of sleigh bells as the catalogs of the Big 3 claimed a huge slice of the pie. The rapid, explosive growth of TDE/RCA’s SZA continues into the new year, while new acts like indie breakout JVKE (on Lonny Olinick’s AWAL) and Darkroom/Interscope’s d4vd look to be having sustained success, moving the needle with more than one track. Boominati/Republic’s Metro Boomin, too, defied the December jinx, overperforming with assists from featured guests The Weeknd, 21 Savage and Future. This was Savage’s second big recent look after his huge record with Drake—he appears to be in position as rap’s next very big thing. Then there’s the comeback smash from Capitol’s Sam Smith, whose new album drops shortly, and Columbia’s unstoppable Harry Styles, whose “As It Was” cruises to 2 billion Spotify streams (a benchmark that his earlier single “Watermelon Sugar” has also passed).

Taylor Swift, too, has earned her first truly big pop hit in quite some time with “Anti-Hero” amid a relentless marketing assault (with its incredibly crafty leveraging of physical retail). While she is unquestionably a heavyweight champ of pure sales—and recently ground Ticketmaster’s on-sale machine to a halt with her gargantuan upcoming stadium tour—Tay is not the Queen of Streaming. Not that she hasn’t racked up some big totals, the biggest being 2014’s “Blank Space,” with 1.05b worldwide on Spotify. But the global streaming numbers of even her top songs of the last five years haven’t approached those of Styles, Olivia Rodrigo (one track at 1.7b, one at 1.6b and two more at 1b) or Dua Lipa (one at 2.1b, two at 1.6b, one at 1.3b). Could the vulnerability and candor evinced in the lyrics of “Anti-Hero,” now at 458m on the Spot, be the key to its impact? Indeed, could this track be the one that gets her to 2b?

Two of 2022’s biggest artist-development stories, Warner’s Zach Bryan and L-M/RCA’s Steve Lacy, look to figure prominently in 2023’s streaming narrative as well. As with several of the other acts noted above, their impact could increase in the wake of the Grammys. Speaking of Music’s Biggest Night, the final-round voting window has closed as some insiders continue to chatter about the Academy’s lack of transparency and who gets the goodies as the TV show is assembled.