HOLLYWOOD—He did it! The Weeknd has become the first artist in Spotify history to hit 100 million monthly listeners, Spotify confirmed. The star’s hits include “Can’t Feel My Face,” “Blinding Lights” and “Starboy.” He already has the service’s most-played song of all time, “Blinding Lights,” which has been played a staggering 3.4 billion times.
His latest accolade comes a few days after he dropped a new remix of “Die For You” with Ariana Grande. On TikTok, the 2016 track enjoyed a new lease of life after yes, going viral. It was actually a minor hit when it was released, reaching number 74 in the charts, it re-entered the Top 40 last week and is set to be a high climber over The Weekend. No pun intended! So let’s begin with his real name, Abel Tesfaye, he has become one of the biggest chart stars of the last decade, with more than 45 platinum and singles and albums.
Born in Toronto, Canada to Ethiopian immigrants, he uploaded his first songs to YouTube back in 2010, showcasing a dark, stand of R&B that delved into drug use, casual sex and alienation. He exploded after another Canadian rapper Drake posted early demos to his personal blog. Which allowed Tesfaye to produce a nine-song mixtape, “House of Balloons,” which he released as a free download. While he had critical acclaim, he really seemed an unlikely candidate for mainstream success but by the mid-2010s, Tesfaye had a string of hit singles.
They included a duet with Ariana Grande “Love Me Harder”, a Michael Jackson-inspired disco-funk smash “I Can’t Feel My Face,” and a futuristic collaboration with Daft Punk “Starboy.” His fourth album, “After Hours” topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, while the lead single “Blinding Lights” became the longest-running top five single on the US Hot 100. After Hours was a concept album, themed around a character who turned a dark turn- involving alcohol, a fight and being possessed by an evil-spirit. The Weeknd actually stayed in character on his publicity promotion campaign with wearing a face mask in bandages.
Last year’s follow-up, “Dawn FM,” continued the story, with the character traveling through purgatory to the afterlife. The album was a huge success, adding a list of achievements that included four Grammy Awards, two MTV Awards and an Oscar nomination for “Earned It,” his contribution to the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack. So what does it mean to achieve 100 million monthly listeners on Spotify?
Let’s put this in perspective, ok, The Beatles have 27 million monthly listeners, Madonna has 23 million and Michael Jackson has 34 million. His biggest competitor is Miley Cyrus, who lingers behind him with 82.5 million, despite the record-breaking success of her current single, “Flowers.” So how much money is he making? Let’s say that each of his 100 million listeners played just one of his songs, he earned an estimated $239,072 last month. Not too shabby.
So who are the top artists on Spotify monthly? Taylor Swift comes in third place with 80.33 million, Rihanna, 79.44 million, Shakira, 77.46 million, Ed Sheeran with 77.43 million, Sam smith with 73.97 million, David Guetta, 71.52 million, SZA, 69.2 million and last but not least Drake with 68.63 million.
The song “Die For You,” is currently extremely popular, currently at number seven. People have been using it to illustrate wedding videos, clips of cats and Disney kisses on TikTok. That’s why the sudden popularity. So what is next for the Weeknd? He released a concert film, The Weeknd: Live at SoFi Stadium-shot during the American leg of his ongoing after Hours Til Dawn Tour. He’s also preparing the release of his first TV drama, “The Idol.” A release date has not been set up yet. It’s an all-star cast featuring Lily-Rose Depp, Troye Sivan, “Schitt’s Creek” star Dan Levy, Blackpink singer Jennie and “The Simpson’s” Hank Azaria.
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