In 2018, Drake rapped and the world listened

Started from the bottom, now we’re here.
Started from the bottom, now we’re here.
Image: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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Back in 2009, a Canadian rapper and teen soap star shot to global fame with his Grammy-nominated break-out single, “Best I Ever Had.” Now, fast forward almost a decade, three Grammys, six Billboard Hot 100 number 1 hits, and a lot of memes later, and Drake is the most streamed artist in the world.

Apple released its “Best of 2018” list today (Dec. 4), declaring Drake was the most streamed artist of the year. Spotify also published its roundup of “What the World Listened to in 2018” today and gave Drake the same accolade.

Drizzy took the top two spots on Apple Music’s Top 100 Global Songs Chart with “God’s Plan” and “Nice for What,” while his album Scorpion was number one on the Top 100 Global Albums Chart. These rankings are determined according to streaming data, along with input from Apple Music’s editorial staff.

Spotify’s findings, based entirely on streaming numbers, were similar. With 8.2 billion streams in 2018 alone—and after winning the crown for most streamed artist in 2015 and 2016—Drake is officially Spotify’s most-streamed artist of all time. And once again, “God’s Plan” and Scorpion won the titles of most-streamed song and album on Spotify in 2018. (According to Spotify, Scorpion had as many as 10 million streams per hour shortly after its release this summer.)

Other artists that featured prominently in the streaming platforms’ roundups include Post Malone, J Balvin, Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, and XXXTentacion (who was shot and killed earlier this year). Ariana Grande was the most-streamed female artist of 2018 on Spotify, with her songs streamed more than 3 billion times this year alone. (However, no women made Spotify’s top 5 most-streamed artists.)

Drake’s dominance also sheds light on how disproportionately the streaming model awards artists. Spotify only pays about $0.00397 per stream, and the royalties have to be split among  writers, producers, performers, and others. Since the top 10% of artists, like Drake, dominate 99% of streams, it means that the remaining 90% are left with little. Some artists have even begun making their songs shorter to game the streaming system. However, new music legislation and different distribution models might soon benefit lesser-known artists.