The Top 500 Global Rank provided by Spotify to list the biggest artists on their platform is based on the monthly listeners statistics. These are, the number of distinct users who listened to at least one song from an artist over the last rolling 28 days.
With Spotify claiming close to 600 million monthly active users, the very top artists can top 100 million unique listeners by themselves, meaning close to 1 user every 5 listens to them over the course of a month.
Most monthly listeners – Top 10,000
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Monthly listeners and most streamed artists
As Spotify use monthly listeners to build their top artists list, a confusion is very frequently made between this statistic and the artist with the most Spotify streams ever.
The most streamed artist is a very different ranking though, as it totals all streams, from all users, since the very beginning of the service.
The monthly listeners data is a rolling indicator, based on 28 days’ activity. It is also binary, defining if a user listened to an artist or not, without caring about how many songs or times the user listened to the same artist. This favors stars with one signature song which is much bigger than the rest of their catalog, like Radiohead, Oasis, Mariah Carey, MC Hammer and many others.
As this measure ignores the way people engage with a catalog, its results also inflate songs featured on big playlists, and the Christmas season is the best moment to notice it as artists with seasonal tracks explode every year as soon as Spotify promotes the Christmas music playlists.
Last but not least, being featured on a big hit, even a remix, will still provide to the singer all monthly listeners, which largely inflates scores from lower profile artists who participate on a hit from bigger acts.
Ultimately, the most monthly listeners ranking doesn’t reflect the most popular artists, not even the ones with the largest reach.
Artists who held the top spot
Despite the flaws of this indicator, it is no fluke to be the #1 artist, as it takes both a huge catalog, big current hits and an impressive reach to dominate the pop music scene globally.
Over the years, rare are the artists who managed to lead. In 2023, only two stars managed to be at one, The Weeknd and Taylor Swift. They have been respectively the first male and the first female artist to hit 100 million monthly listeners on Spotify worldwide.
Even if we look at the entire decade, only 5 artists went to #1, the two already mentioned plus Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, and Ariana Grande. Only music industry giants.
Interestingly, in the past hip-hop (Drake), R&B (Khalid), or even Latin music (Daddy Yankee, J Balvin) have been represented on top. As the largest of the streaming platforms continued to grow around the globe over the last 5 years, with subscribers going up fast in Asia, it is now near impossible to outdo everyone else without a strong pop vibe.
Most monthly listeners artists – How it works
Our most monthly listeners artists list is updated daily, just like the statistic is on Spotify.
To build this list, we automatically retrieve the information for more than 20,000 major artists. We will be adding newly increasing stars to make sure we remain comprehensive.