Streaming has wreaked havoc on the traditional charts system—at this point, you need to be Will Hunting to understand Billboard's streaming-sales formula - but on the positive side pure streaming numbers give us a historically clear look at what music people are really listening to right now. And let me tell you, people are listening to G-Eazy in massive numbers.
When HitsDailyDouble compiled their half-year streaming totals for 2016 there were some familiar names near the top of the audio mountain. Surprise, Bieber is really popular. Surprise, Drake is really-really-popular. But I was frankly a little shocked to see G-Eazy's name in the top ten, right there with Beyoncé and Future and impressively ahead of rap gods like Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
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It's not that I didn't see G-Eazy's success coming—we've been covering him for over five years and it was always clear he had the potential to be a star—it's that I didn't quite recognize how successful he was right now. As much as the music landscape's changed, we still get so wrapped up in things like first week album sales, a metric that's as outdated as downloading mp3s off Napster.
As we can see from Eminem and J. Cole's rankings here, you can actually be one of the most listened to artists on the planet even if you haven't dropped an album in years, even without an album at all. A couple popular singles can move the needle, and as we've also seen with Kevin Gates and Bryson Tiller, especially if your audience skews younger, you can be putting elite streaming numbers on the board without the established music industry (and media) recognizing you as elite.
So here's your recognition Mr. Eazy. We see you. Someone's going to be the next rapper to top one-billion streams, and at this point, I wouldn't bet against it being you.