Drake, Eminem & Kanye Top Spotify's Most Streamed Artists of 2015

Drake racked up a staggering 1.8 billion streams on Spotify this year. All hail the 6ix God.
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Drake racked up a staggering 1.8 billion streams on Spotify this year. All hail the 6ix God.

It's December 1 and you know what that means: year-end round-up season. As we start to see the beginning of Top-Whatever lists, Spotify released its streaming numbers for streaming in 2015 with the 6ix God sitting on top of the world with a staggering 1.8 billion streams of his music from around 46 million listeners across the globe.

The yearly announcement came yesterday with The Weeknd, Kanye West, Maroon 5 and Ed Sheeran rounding out the top five globally. Topping the charts on the female side of things was Rihanna at 1 billion streams and 57 million listeners, followed closely by Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Ariana Grande and Ellie Goulding. That list only changes slightly when adjusted for a U.S.-only versus a global audience, with Eminem replacing Maroon 5 on the male side and Nicki Minaj and Beyonce overtaking Rihanna. 

Top Five Artists in U.S.

  1. Drake
  2. The Weeknd
  3. Kanye West
  4. Ed Sheeran
  5. Eminem

Top Five Females in U.S.

  1. Nicki Minaj
  2. Beyoncé
  3. Rihanna
  4. Ariana Grande
  5. Lana Del Rey

The Spotify streaming charts are a metric that have become increasingly popular as the service has grown to the largest in the world. Whereas traditional record sales demonstrated what albums were being bought, Spotify and streaming services offer numbers for what is actually being listened to. It's a slight difference but an important one that allows the Spotify list to reflect not the most successful businessmen in the industry right now, but the most popular artists in the purest sense; they have the most amount of people listening to their music. 

On that note, it's interesting that of the artists in the top five overall, Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Kanye West and Eminem didn't even release albums this year, but nonetheless find themselves at the top of the heap. Likewise, Minaj, Grande, Rihanna and Beyonce all took 2015 off from full-length releases and reached the top spots nonetheless. In a lot of ways it speaks to the nature of the music industry that we live in today. If you build a strong enough brand and catalog your new album release schedule is secondary.

While the unloading of Spotify data surely kicks off 'year-end' season, the statistics come with two huge gaps. Adele sold over three million records in one week with the release of her 25 album. She chose not to allow it to stream and thus isn't on the Spotify list despite being the most successful selling musician in the world. Likewise for Taylor Swift, who has shunned streaming services. And so goes the current, confusing world of the music business.

That Billboardwas one of the first to report on the stats is somewhat ironic given that their own maps to the music world have grown reflective of what people are listening to. At the same time, the growing antipathy towards online streaming could well spur a movement led by Adele to make the companies behind the services figure out a decent pay scale or face even more major artists withholding their music.

So, as you dig through every list the internet cooks up to put the year in perspective, keep in mind that in 2015 music can exist in entirely separate worlds, one in which Adele is a superstar and one in which she doesn't exist, one in which Fetty Wap's album was a flop, and one in which it was enormously popular. In fact, online or in the real world, streams or physical sales, about the only thing we know for sure is that Drake is really, really popular. 

Top Five Albums in the U.S.

  1. If You're Reading This It's Too Late – Drake
  2. Beauty Behind The Madness – The Weeknd
  3. Fetty Wap – Fetty Wap
  4. Dark Sky Paradise – Big Sean
  5. SremmLife – Rae Sremmurd 

Top Five Tracks in the U.S.

  1. "Trap Queen" – Fetty Wap
  2. "The Hills" – The Weeknd
  3. "Earned It" (Fifty Shades Of Grey) – The Weeknd
  4. "Uptown Funk" – Mark Ronson
  5. "Lean On" (feat. MØ & DJ Snake) – Major Lazer

[By Jake Krez. You can follow him on Twitter. Additional reporting by Nathan Slavik.]