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Apple and Spotify reveal 2021’s most-streamed songs

Written by on 2nd December 2021

Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Bad Bunny were among the most-streamed artists of 2021, according to figures from Apple Music and Spotify.

But it was newcomer Olivia Rodrigo who took the top spot in the UK – with her punk-pop anthem Good 4U emerging as the most-played song on both services. Globally, her debut hit Drivers License was the biggest song for Spotify users.

Apple’s audience preferred the slick pop of BTS, whose single Dynamite was the most-played song of the year. Originally released in 2020, Dynamite song failed to make Spotify’s top five – presumably because the streaming service only launched in the band’s native South Korea this year (without the option of its popular, ad-funded free service).

British artists were well-represented in the year-end charts, with Dua Lipa’s disco-pop odyssey Future Nostalgia becoming Spotify’s second most-played album, after Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour.

Ed Sheeran’s earworm Bad Habits – specifically released to soundtrack a summer of lockdown easing – was Spotify’s third-biggest song of 2021.

It only came 53rd in Apple’s chart, however, reflecting the service’s more US-centric audience.

Apple’s UK listeners had his back, with Bad Habits equalling its global position as the year’s third most-streamed song in Sheeran’s home country.

The charts were compiled too early for Adele to make an impression, however. Her comeback single Easy On Me missed Apple’s Top 100 altogether.

With a whole calendar month of 2021 left to go, the star could easily steal into the top 10. Her fourth album, 30, has already become the year’s biggest seller in the US, after just one week on sale.

According to Spotify, the year’s most popular artist overall was Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, who racked up an impressive total of 9.1 billion streams.

“I don’t into it to be the number one most-streamed artist,” said the 27-year-old, upon hearing the news. “I just make music. I just enjoy my ‘work’.”

Taylor Swift, who released new versions of her classic albums Fearless and Red this year, was Spotify’s second most-played artist, followed by BTS, Drake and Justin Bieber.

Together, Spotify and Apple Music make up 48% of the global streaming market, and successful artists can attract huge numbers of plays for their most popular tracks.

All of the songs in Spotify’s top five were streamed more than 1 billion times over the last 12 months.

Profits from streaming have helped the music industry recover from the piracy crisis of the 2000s, with UK record labels earning £736.5 million last year.

But there is criticism of how that money is distributed, with many musicians and songwriters saying they receive a pittance when their songs get played.

Earlier this year, a committee of MPs called for a “complete reset” of the streaming market, suggesting that royalties should be split equally between record labels and musicians.

Under the current system, artists receive about 16%.

(Source: BBC News)