For 2021 to date, global music streaming is up by a remarkable 25.9% from the same period in 2020, according to a new study of international music trends from MRC Data. The total amount of on-demand audio song streams from January through August of this year was 1.7 trillion, as opposed to 1.4 trillion during the first eight months of last year.
That’s one of many significant statistics in the new study, titled “Global Music & Chart Report: A Year in Review.” The release of the report coincides with the first anniversary of Billboard having instituted two new charts last year, the weekly Billboard Global 200 and its sister ranking, the Global Excl. U.S. chart, which, as the name suggests, lists the top songs in the world with the U.S. taken out of the equation.
Also included in the report are lists ranging from rankings of which songs have had the most international staying over the past 12 months to the individual countries that are experiencing the greatest music growth, as well as a look at why collaborations can be key to crossover between different nations.
As good as the 25.9% uptick looks for global song streams in 2021, the news continues to be downbeat for paid music downloads, which hardly factor into hit records’ success anymore. Global digital song sales were down 14.2% for the first eight months of this year, with just 250.2 million, versus 291.5 million at the same point last year.
MRC Data’s report includes a list of 24 songs that have been on both of Billboard’s global music charts for every week of the charts’ first year of existence. It includes a lot of songs that American music fans would know to be ongoing smashes — some of them not particularly new releases — including Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now,” Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar,” Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved,” BTS’ “Dynamite,” Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” and “Shape of You.”
More surprising to U.S, observers on this list of songs with nonstop global chart runs, perhaps, would be a few pickss that weren’t as ubiquitous in the States, like “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)” by Jawsh 685 X Jason Derulo, “Head & Heart” by Joel Corry X MNEK, “Hawái” by Maluma and “Yoru ni Kakeru” by YOASOBI.
Of the 1,300 songs by 800 artists that made either of the two Billboard global charts in the first year of their existence, U.S. acts represented a bare majority of those acts, at 51%. But, the study points out, that’s a far lower figure than the 80% figure for American acts on the publication’s marquee chart, the domestically based Billboard Hot 100. The Global Excl. U.S. chart has American artists at just 33% of the chart.
Other territories whose acts are represented on the two charts are led by the U.K., whose artists account for 10.9% of acts making the Global 200 (with help from Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, etc.), Puerto Rico, with 9.6% artist representation (including Bad Bunny, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro and Tainy), Canada with 7.5% (thanks to the Weeknd, Drake Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, etc.), Colombia with 4.2% (including Karol G, J Balvin, Shakira and Maluma), South Korea with 2.0% (including BTS, Blackpink and NCT), Japan with 1.9% of charting artists (including Yoasobi and Lisa) and Australia with 1.9% (Sia, the Kid Laroi, Tones and I, etc.). Countries whose artists account for about 1% of charting artists on the global charts include Brazil, Argentina, Germany and France.
According to MRC Data, 72% of streams this year have come from the world excluding the U.S. and the remaining 28% of music streaming activity was in the U.S.
For what it’s worth, North America accounts for a majority of the world’s paid music downloads — a rapidly shrinking piece of the music pie. The U.S. represented 53% of worldwide paid digital downloads, with 47% of those sales coming from the ret of the world.
The study shines a spotlight on Jason Derulo for understanding the importance of collaborations in breaking through in different markets, saying that the U.S.-based performer has reinvented his career by taking buzzing global dance hits and remixing them to hit the global charts. “One by one,” the study says, “Derulo has collaborated with Jawsh 685 (from New Zealand) on ‘Savage Love – Laxed (Siren Beat)”; PURI, Jhorrmountain and Adje (the Netherlands) on ‘Coño; Nuka (French New Caledonia) on ‘Love Not War’; and Tesher (Canada/ India) on ‘Jalebi Baby.’ Each song’s original momentum on YouTube and SoundCloud snowballed with Derulo’s name-brand familiarity, even taking the reworked ‘Savage Love – Laxed (Siren Beat) to the top of the Global 200.”
The resurgence of rock internationally is connected with rock making an unexpected “Eurovision” impact. The study points to “Zitte e buoni” from Italy’s Mäneskin winning the contest this past May as 183 million people watched. That wasn’t the rock band’s biggest hit, though; it peaked with weekly streams of a little less than 50 million. The song “Beggin'” soared to about 225 million weekly global streams, meanwhile, by the end of August.
The study also looks at the resurgence of classic oldies on a global scale, led by Fleetwood Mac’s TikTok-injected success with “Dreams,” which has been on the Global 200 for the last 49 weeks now, peaking at No. 10, higher than any other song released prior to 2016. “Dreams” even made it to No. 30 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart. Boney M’s 1978 “Rasputin” has also been an unlikely hit, again, rising to No. 32 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart.
The full report can be downloaded here.