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The all-time most-streamed artists on Spotify

The world of streaming music has been around for so long that it no longer is a novelty. In fact, physical copies of music have become rare, with most sales coming in the shape of vinyl. There are different places to stream music, but one of the most popular is Spotify. Over the years, several artists have emerged as the most-streamed musicians on the platform. Here they are.

 
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Drake

Drake
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Not bad for a guy who first became famous acting on “Degrassi” in Canada. Now he’s the most-streamed artist in Spotify history. While he’s no longer in the top five in terms of streams per month, the Toronto Raptors’ most famous fan was the most-streamed artist of the 2010s and also the most-streamed musician in three separate years in that decade.

 
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Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran
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Plenty of people have never heard a song by the red-haired singer, but obviously he has plenty of fans. In the year 2017 he was the most-streamed artist in 11 of the 12 months and also the first two months of 2018. Maybe he’s fallen off a bit, but the year 2017 was the year of Ed Sheeran, at least on Spotify.

 
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Eminem

Eminem
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It can be hard to find longevity in music, especially for rappers. While Eminem has always been polarizing, and proud of it, he’s kept his fans for decades at this point. Marshall Mathers first became famous when the internet was just beginning to explode, and now he’s all over Spotify, thanks to classic hits and new songs.

 
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The Weeknd

The Weeknd
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Not even having a song on the soundtrack for one of the “Fifty Shades” movies could derail the career of The Weeknd. Like Eminem, his music is sometimes controversial, but clearly some people don’t mind. He was the most-streamed artist for at least one month in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and he’s still among the most popular musicians on Spotify.

 
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Rihanna

Rihanna
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The peak of Rihanna may be behind us. She’s no longer one of the top 20 artists for monthly streams, though she ranks fourth in terms of the most followers on Spotify. The early days of Spotify was in line with Rihanna’s peak stardom, however, and surely she still has fans, even if a lot of her listeners came in the first couple of years in the service.

 
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Kanye West

Kanye West
Mark Sagliocco/WireImage

At this point, even Kanye’s fans have a complicated relationship with him and his music. Even the time he ran on stage during Taylor Swift’s award acceptance feels less weird than stuff he’s done in recent years. Still, whenever he releases new music it’s an event, and Kanye has a big back catalog at this point for streaming purposes.

 
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Coldplay

Coldplay
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Hey look, a band! That sort of plays something akin to rock music. The Spotify era has not been a time of success for rock bands. Chris Martin and Co. have a ton of hits and have managed to keep a fan base for well over a decade at this point. People still like songs like “Yellow” and “The Scientist” after all.

 
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Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber
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Bieber could be primed to climb up the charts. As of this writing, he’s the most popular artist on Spotify. Of course, this is nothing new. He’s been around for so long that he first hit the top of the rankings way back in 2015. Bieber has been through a lot at this point, but the Beliebers have been by his side the whole time.

 
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Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris
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Why is a DJ one of the most-streamed artists in Spotify history? Maybe it’s because of his song “We Found Love,” which he made with Rihanna and topped the Billboard charts. Perhaps it’s people who just want some beats for a big party. Or maybe it’s because Harris and Taylor Swift dated for a while in 2015 and 2016. All are possible reasons.

 
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Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande
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Grande wasn’t really a musician when Spotify first came into being, but she’s been incredibly popular in recent years. She was the third-most streamed artist of 2019, her first big year on Spotify. Her fan base is quite dedicated, as she has the third-most followers on the streaming service, with Drake in her sights at No. 2.

 
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Post Malone

Post Malone
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Malone is already one of the most-streamed people on Spotify, and it’s basically just from the last two years. After being the second-most-streamed musician in 2018, he topped the charts in 2019 with 6.5 billion streams. While 2020 hasn’t been up to that level yet, if he releases any new music, we know he’ll climb the charts.

 
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Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns

Spotify has unveiled its most-streamed artists of the year every year since 2013. Only four artists have ever accomplished that: Sheeran, Drake, Post Malone and, yes, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Back in 2013, nobody was getting streamed more. Sure, Macklemore proved to be a bit of a flash in the pan, but his peak was so high he’s still on this list.

 
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Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish
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The Grammys were all in on the young songstress, and Spotify listeners seem to have hopped on the Billie Eilish train as well. She’s basically been active in any real way just since 2019, but in that year she finished behind only Post Malone in terms of streams. She’s also second here early in 2020, and Eilish now has a James Bond theme song under her belt as well.

 
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J Balvin

J Balvin
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Reggaeton may not be for everybody, but the Colombian-born Balvin has his fans. In June of 2018 he was the most-streamed artist on Spotify, and he finished fourth overall in that year. Evidently it wasn’t a fluke either. Balvin is back to climbing the charts, as he’s fifth in streams to start 2020. Sometimes, all it takes is a small but devoted fan base.

 
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Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift
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Swift has never been the most-streamed artist in any given month for Spotify, at least since it started charting that in 2015. Of course, Swift has been around forever. “Red” and “1989” both came out before 2015, after all. Back then Swift was all the rage and getting tons of streams. There’s a reason why she’s seventh in followers on Spotify, even if she is no longer in the zeitgeist like she once was.

 
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Khalid

Khalid
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The year 2019 was dominated by Sheeran and Grande, who combined to be the most-streamed artist for 11 out of 12 months. The other month went to Khalid, who had a big year in 2019 thanks to his album “Free Spirit” and his hit song “Talk.” Khalid’s popularity has continued into 2020, as he’s current sixth in terms of total streams.

 
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Maroon 5

Maroon 5
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When you’re a big enough band to play the Super Bowl, you have fans. Maroon 5 has been around since 2002 but still has plenty of followers. The band's success isn’t all from the early days of Spotify either. Adam Levine and Co. finished fourth in streams in 2015, and they currently rank 12th in 2020.

 
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Queen

Queen
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Yes, that’s right. Almost all of the most-streamed artists on Spotify are current artists dropping new singles and popping up on TV. Queen is not one of those bands and hasn't really been in decades due to the untimely death of frontman Freddie Mercury. However, Queen is the one old-school artist that has clear popularity on Spotify. The band ranks 12th in followers, a list where Taylor Swift qualifies as a veteran name. The popularity of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” both the biopic and the song, certainly helps.

 
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Adele

Adele
Samir Hussein/Getty Images for September Management

Adele has fallen from the heights of streaming due to a relative absence from music. She was all over the early days of Spotify, especially her hit album “21.” However, her 2015 album, “25,” was famously kept off Spotify for several months, which hurt her streaming numbers. The real issue for Adele, in terms of stream, is that “25” is her last album, though there are rumors 2020 will bring new music.

 
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Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons
Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

We end with another rare appearance by a band — one that had its heyday a few years ago. “Radioactive” garnered plenty of streams in 2012, and the popularity of that song, and the album it was on, carried over to 2013. Imagine Dragons was the fifth-most-streamed artist of that year, and in 2017 had a couple of more huge hits, boosting the streams even further.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.



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