Looking at China’s most popular international artists

Every year China seems to be climbing several positions on IFPI’s top music market’s ranking and the growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

In just a few years we could see this country overtake markets like the UK, France and Germany and seriously challenging Japan! So who is benefiting the most from this? Just like we did with Gaana earlier this year we’re now looking at the most followed international artists on QQ Music, China’s biggest streaming service.

Boy Bands / Girl Groups

It’s no secret that Asia really loves idol groups, China is no exception!

Another thing China really loves is K-pop which is taking as many 12 of the 15 spots on this list with Big Bang as the clear leader of the pack with over 12 million followers! EXO places safely at the second spot with the advantage of having Chinese members.

BTS and Blackpink might seem to rank a bit low from a western viewpoint, but K-pop have been massive in China for much longer giving older groups such as Girls’ Generation, T-Ara and Super Junior a big boost.

When it comes to western groups One Direction at 8th is not number one among them, but in fact second to no other than Westlife at 7th which is very telling on just how big they were back in their day. The Backstreet Boys also make the list at 15th.

Bands

Most followed artists on QQ - Bands

Although boy bands and girl groups seem to be the big thing at the moment bands are definitely not irrelevant with Maroon 5 in the lead with 4.2 million followers.

Linkin Park comes at 2nd highlighting their huge following in Asia. Fall Out Boy is often seen as very local to the US but a number 3 ranking on this list is definitely showing that it’s not the case.

CNBLUE and F.T. Island are two South Korean rock bands making the list at 4th and 9th respectively. There are two other Asian rock bands here, they are Radwimps and One OK Rock from Japan at 11th and 15th.

The Beatles ranks at number 10 here with Queen 2 spots behind at 12th. They are the top legacy bands here. Nightwish at 8th and Michael Learns To Rock at 14th might come as a pleasant surprise for some.

Female Singers

Most followed artists on QQ - Female Singers

For female singers the number one spot was to be expected with Taylor Swift in the lead with 6.8 million followers, a number which is growing fast.

Safely at number two we have no other than Avril Lavigne which despite losing relevancy in the US and Europe have maintained a massive following in Asia.

Adele was to be expected on this list at 3rd with Rihanna and Lady Gaga right behind.

Two South Korean singers made the list too with IU at 6th followed by Hyuna at 7th. Another surprise here might be Carly Rae Jepsen at 9th outdoing no other than Ariana Grande at 10th.

Britney Spears is the oldest diva in the list, meaning that all of the big 4 from the 90s miss the list.

Male Singers

Most followed artists on QQ - Male Singers

For male singers the race is much closer with South Korean rapper and Big Bang member G-Dragon in the lead at the moment who’s 150,000 followers ahead of Justin Bieber at 2.

Two big surprises for some might be Charlie Puth and Troye Sivan ranking very high at 3rd and 4th. At the 5th spot we have no other than the king of pop himself, Michael Jackson.

Eminem takes the second spot among rappers as well as ranking 6th overall among male singers. Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran were expected here at 7th and 8th.

Going down the list we have 2 more Big Bang members! These are Taeyang and T.O.P at 9th and 13th. Other surprises here are Psy, Owl City and Adam Lambert all making the the top 15.

DJ’s

Most followed artists on QQ - DJs

Despite being a one hit wonder in many countries, Alan Walker‘s status in China is no joke despite only getting popular there very recently. Out of all artists on this list he is gaining the most followers so don’t be surprised if he’s above the likes of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber very soon.

Moving on to number 2 we have The Chainsmokers which is not a big surprise since they are massive all over Asia. A bigger shocker might be Owl City at 3rd above the likes of Martin Garrix and Marshmello at 4th and 5th. Avicii comes in at 6th.

Some unexpected appearances here might be the Dutch duo Vicetone and K-391, a Norwegian DJ mostly know for his Alan Walker collaborations.

Legacy Acts

Most followed artists on QQ - Legacy Acts

For legacy acts Michael Jackson at number one doesn’t come as a surprise.

The 2nd spot on the other hand might be a big shock for many. Richard Clayderman is a French pianist that was popular in Europe and especially his home country France during the 70s and 80s. Although his lasting appeal is nowhere as big in these regions.

If you got the impression China is into classical music you are no wrong. At 5th and 6th we have no other than Ludwig van Bethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, they are by far the oldest artists on this list.

As mentioned before The Beatles and Queen are the top legacy bands at 3rd and 4th. Among bands they are followed by the Eagles at 9th.

Whitney Houson at 7th and The Carpenters at 10th are in line with their huge results in Japan. Bob Dylan at 8th on the other hand was not expected.

Japanese Artists

Most followed artists on QQ - Japanese Artists

J-pop might not be as popular as K-pop at the moment but the impression it have no fans outside Japan is simply not correct since there are 9 Japanese artists in the top 200. In the lead we have Kenshi Yonezu who is insanely popular in Japan at the moment. He is followed by Aimer.

At 3rd we have the biggest Japanese female artist of all time, Ayumi Hamasaki. AKB48 takes the 5th spot as well as the first wen it comes to Idol groups. Other artists include Hikaru Utada, Mika Nakashima and Ikimonogakari.

The Overall List

Most followed artists on QQ

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

96 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Manali

Where is seventeen SVT

djdj

Hi, MJD!
For legacy acts, you missed Madonna, which has 243k followers on QQ Music.

Samsas

Just checked, Taylor is now at 6.953M. She grew by almost 100K in 2 weeks lol.

worldcitizen

Hi Al!

Thank you for your interesting articles about India and now China! 🙂
Would you mind writing articles about Russia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa?
These countries/regions also have no official charts and were also very impacted by piracy, however they’re now starting to use streaming services.
Russia mainly uses VKontakte, the Middle East uses Anghami and Sub-Saharan Africa uses Boomplay.

worldcitizen

That’s great! 🙂

BTW, you missed the Danish singer Christopher.
He has 709000 followers on QQ which means he’s more known in China than Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith!
I had no idea who he was before I randomly found this Bloomberg article:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-03-12/so-you-want-to-be-a-pop-star-in-china

borderwolf

Dire Straits more than 1.000.000? Or I’m wrong?

borderwolf

Thanks

borderwolf

Hi Al!
How to do it, to look for how many followers a certain artist has?

borderwolf

Thanks for replay!

Tommy

Taylor is so global

djdj

No,she is not that popular in continental Europe. Also, she is nobody in South Korea.

djdj

Yes, she is nobody in South Korea. A TV show showed that when she is in the Korean subway, still nobody in the subway figure she out that she is Taylor Swift.That TV show was back in like 2010. So, I don’t know how MJD estimate 1.6 million downloads in SK for LS, but her tracks from Red was popular in Korea lol, based on Gaon.

djdj

Her new single ME! can’t even chart in the top 100 of Melon, while Bad Guy by Billie entered the top 3.

Xavier

to be fair tho Taylor music she’s been releasing is not good at all. Even I as fan can admit that. I’m not saying if she released a good song it would certainly smash but how can you be comparing Billie and Ariana to Taylor Swift. When Reputation outsold both of their albums. Despite being seen as a flop. And I’m sure they won’t be reaching Reps CSPC anytime soon. Taylors been in the game for 13 years with 2 huge peaks. Also yes we all know she ain’t that big in Europe and South Korea. But I don’t get… Read more »

MJD

Hi Xavier!

Your comment has various interesting and valid arguments so don’t fall into these pointless fan-war conclusions yo uain’t serving your point! You only open the door to more bias / attacks from other fans/haters, especially since you feed them by claiming that last albums of Ariana and Billie won’t reach CSPC total of Reputation which will most likely fire back to you. Career-wise Taylor is on another level, not sure it requires that much arguments really!

Michael

She is massive in South Korea and probably the biggest foreign acts in the whole of Asia from her generation. Stop talking shit. She might not be that big in Europe, but she basically sold a lot in all other market.

djdj

She is not massive in Korea, she sold only thousands of albums there. However, tracks from Red is popular. The biggest female international acts in Aisa from her generation is Lady Gaga, who is even able to tour in the big stadiums in Korea and Thailand, and sold millions of albums in Japan with just 1 album.

Ozil

🌎IFPI🇺🇸RIAA🇯🇵RIAJ,all distinguish betweenThe Fame and The Fame Monster

Michael

Which is again u r wrong. A search on youtube analystics shows today she has 3.18 million views in Korea vs Beyonce less than a million and Lady Gaga 1.2 million. Lady Gaga was massive back when she was at her peak. But her popularity dropped so brutally album after album, while Taylor remains steady album after album. And furthermore the Korean album sales has been literally dead for like a decade. People dont buy albums anymore over there, so why even bother bringing up album sales.

djdj

sis you can compare Taylor’s Korean YouTube views with Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish.Taylor got 23 million views from Korea in the last 12 months, but 62 million for Billie and over 70 million for Ariana. You will find out that Taylor is no longer the top international female acts there anymore. She can’t even chart in the top 100 of Melon. Gaon digital numbers also tell that she is already a big flop there.

Ben

Did you consider the fact that Taylor has only released 2 songs in the last 12 months vs. the constant releases (in Ariana’s case 2 studio albums) from both Ariana/Billie in the past 12? Also, No one claimed she was the biggest female act in South Korea. Taylor is definitely one of the top international acts in the country and the biggest western act in all of Asia.

djdj

Then you can compare their views in the last 28 days, Taylor is still beaten. The biggest western act in all of Asia should be Gaga, who sold millions of albums in Japan with just one album and open big stadiums in Korea and Thailand. ATF was also 9xPlatinum=135k in the Philippines, not lower than Fearless by Taylor. Gaga outsold Taylor in both Japan and Southeast Asia. Oh, maybe Taylor sold massive digital albums in China, but that don’t equal to standard album sales much.

Ben

Taylor grossed over $14m from her two shows at the Tokyo Dome last fall. That is twice the combined gross of Gaga in Korea and Thailand. The argument that Gaga is bigger than Taylor is simply ridiculous. Her Global Heat Map might give you an idea of her power in the region.
Once again, no one ever claimed Taylor was at the moment (Or ever) the biggest western act in South Korea.

djdj

But seriously, Gaga sold over 1 million albums in Japan with just one album. No doubt that Gaga was much huger than Taylor in Japan. She sold much more downloads and ringtones of her tracks in Japan,too.Tour boxoffices don’t tell everything,Mariah used to do badly on tour box offices, but still huge on physical record sales.Global Heat Map gives nothing, that would only suggest Southeast Asia is where stream Taylor most on YouTube, only compare to herself, not anyone else.

Ozil

Gaga sold millions of albums in Japan with just 3 albums.LOL

Ozil

According to Japan’s offical chart 🇯🇵oricon, The Fame sold 700k+;The Fame Monster sold 200k+;The Remix sold 100k+.Gaga sold millions of albums in Japan with just 3 albums.LOL,🌎IFPI🇺🇸RIAA🇯🇵RIAJ all distinguish between The Fame and The Fame Monster

djdj

sis it seems that you know nothing about how music industry count sales
https://chartmasters.org/2018/03/cspc-lady-gaga-popularity-analysis-2/4/
Only in North America, TF and TFM are seperate, because TFM was released as an EP in North America. But the case is different in other regions. In other regions, TF and TFM are noth released as studio albums, so although sometimes they are seperate to be counted sales, MJD still add them together.

Ozil

Is MJD more authoritative than IFPI???LOL
IFPI Top 50 Global Best Selling Albums for 2009:
#5 The Fame
#15 The Fame Monster
IFPI Top 50 Global Best Selling Albums for 2010:
#2 The Fame Monster
#25 The Fame
IFPI Top 50 Global Best Selling Albums for 2011:
#48 The Fame Monster
Lady Gaga’s main works:
LG1:TF(2008)
LG2:TFM(2009)
LG3:BTW(2011)
LG4:ARTPOP(2013)
TB&LG:CTC(2014)
LG5:Joanne(2016)
LG&BC:ASIB(2018)
Everyone knows LG5=Joanne,
If LG1=TF+TFM,
Where is LG5???
Both CTC and ASIB are all cooperative works ,can’t belong to solo LGz(z is positive integer )series.

djdj

What you mentioned are just different releases. For example, Thriller has a lot of different releases through nearly 40 years, when they chart they are seperate to be counted sales and have different names. That doesn’t mean they aren’t added together when counting the sales of the studio album. And I have to repeat again, TFM was released as an EP only in North America with 1.675 million sales in North America alone,maybe enough to chart. The title of the studio album is The Fame/The Fame Monster, because in other regions (outside North America), TFM was released as a studio… Read more »

Ozil

Beacuse of IFPI didn’t publish sales’ data earlier years ago ,MJD can’t distinguish between The Fame and The Fame Monster,another unofficial chart:UWC showed TFM sold about 6m around the world for 2010 only.

djdj

LOL then get out of his site. Once again, outside of North America, TFM was an re-issue of TF. This is not another original album, but an reissue of TF.But TFM was released as an EP in North America,so it is seperate.I don’t want to waste time on you now.

MJD

Hi all! Let’s try to be realistic on these kind of discussions. It only generates fights to make dubious claims like Taylor is a nobody in SK. Same when one say she is the biggest western act in all of Asia. In SK, she has been fairly sucessful for a foreign act some years ago. She struggles a bit more lately, but she is still not quite close to irrelevant. In the entire Asia she is definitely a huge deal. She hasn’t got as high as Avril Lavigne has got at her peak, but not many challenge her in recent… Read more »

Michael

Hi MJD. If Taylor is top 3, does that means she is bigger than Lady Gaga in Asia in terms of sales & streamings.

MJD

It’s a tricky case, it would require additional checks. Without getting into detailed data I would guess that Gaga had a higher peak but cumulatively speaking the catalog of Taylor is more valuable.

Michael

Guess somebody had just been proven wrong here. 😉

djdj

According to your own calculations, Gaga sold more than one million albums than Taylor in Asia.

Michael

Do you understand what cumulatively speaking means? And furthermore ur talking about album sales alone. If we add in streamings + downloads + streamings its obvious Taylor would beat Gaga or at least be at the same level.

djdj

I don’t think so, because in Japan and South Korea Gaga has much more downloads and ringtones than Taylor.

Michael

Japan and South Korea are not the only market in Asia. Taylor is much bigger in China, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. Over the past 1 year Taylor has twice as big as Lady Gaga youtube views in Japan, and she has 6 more million views over Lady Gaga over the past 1 year. So obviously u r wrong but u just too ego to admit. Where do u get ur facts that Lady Gaga has much more downloads and ringtones?

djdj

Japan and South Korea already dominate downloads and ringtones markets in the whole Asia. For those figures, check Oricon/RIAJ and Gaon, everything is there. Taylor is not much bigger in the Philillines, while both TF and Fearless went 9xPlatinum there. Also for sales in Indonesia or Malaysia, Taylor didn’t outsold Gaga. But she does outstreamed Gaga. For physical album sales in China, Taylor yes is actually biggest here, while her 1989 sold over 250k physical copies (it went 5xP=100k before her 1989 toured there, and then it doubled her sales since her 1989 tour, her label also was marketing her… Read more »

Michael

Why are u talking about TF and Fearless alone? Again for the 20th time. Gaga did have bigger peak. Meaning she was bigger during the TF era. But after that she was kind of a flop. Taylor Swift’s consistently sold more after yhe TF, Fearless era. It would be a joke to say that Born This Way, Artpop, Cheek 2 Cheek and Joanne outsold Speak Now, Red, 1989 and Reputation. As everybody has said for like a million times, CUMULATIVELY Taylor is bigger. Which part of that sentence did u not understand? And whatever gain Gaga has made through strong… Read more »

djdj

https://chartmasters.org/2018/04/data-collector-top-female-artist-success-ratings/ No, comulatively Taylor is not bigger, while Gaga has 202 ASR, and Taylor has 170 ASR. Then, My opinion was based on facts, because in fact I listen to Taylor more,it is all on my YouTube listening history. Then, in Southeast Asia, streaming was much cheaper than in US or Europe. In Southeast Asia, Spotify has SPOTIFY CHEAP issue, YouTube views from there would make much less money. That’s why although Blackpink has about the same views as BTS, they got much less money. I don’t think Taylor already catch up. Red was 2xPlaitnum in the Philippines while Born… Read more »

Michael

Those ASR is for global. Im talking about Asian sales. Lol. Cumulatively Taylor sold 3 million albums in Asia vs Gaga 2.7 million. On top of that she has bigger youtube views in Asia. Whether Youtube or Spotify are cheap or not in SEA. Who cares, at the end of the day billions of South East Asians choose youtube to listen to music. And if Taylor has more views, than shes just simply bigger in the streaming department. Ya maybe Gaga has some slight advantage over downloads. But minus here and there she should already catch up perhaps even beating… Read more »

djdj

According to MJD, Taylor sold 3.09 million albums in Asia, and Gaga sold 4.045 million albums in Asia.

Michael

Which I agree that she was NO longer the top international seller. But overall she wasnt local and she was big all over Asia including South Korea. You choose to point out in 2010 nobody knew her in Korea. Its funny bcoz u choose a time in which she wasnt a global artist yet. She reached her peak global status around 2012-2014 when she started to turn into pop music rather than country. At her peak she was massive all over Asia and she wasnt local. The point im disagreeing with is not whether Lady Gaga are bigger or not.… Read more »

djdj

I never said that she was local. What I state is she is not that big in Europe(what I mean is big in Europe but not that big) and she used be to nobody in South Korea. MJD estimate 1.6 million downloads for LS in SK, I kind of doubt that, that’s why I mentioned that she was nobody in 2010. And I state that Tracks from Red is popular in SK based on Gaon.

Michael

U responded to someone who said, Taylor is global then u said “No”. Ur not saying shes local ur saying shes not global. In other words same thing. Dont try to run away from it. U said it own it. The fact that she has bigger views from many other countries vs America (proportionally speaking based on populations) is what bother Swift fans with ur silly comments.

djdj

That depends on your standard for “global”. For me , yes she is not that global, because she is not that big in Europe(big but not that big),SK and some countries in Latin America.And once again, I never said she is local. There are 2 billion monthly users from YouTube, US represents over 200 million. so, in my opinion, when she got 3 to 4 times views overseas as in US, I can call her ultimately global.

Michael

Over the past 1 months her youtube US youtube views represents less than a quarter of her total global views which also means more than 75% for non us views. That is more than 3 times already. So now u admit she is ultimately global?

MJD

Hi djdj! How do you define “big”? The thing is, if she had the exact same sales in Europe, but sales similar to Demi Lovato (no disrecpect) elsewhere, we would be saying that Taylor is big in Europe but so-so elsewhere so not global. An artist isn’t global only when he is hugely and equally popular everywhere. I suppose only one artist in history would fit this description. Do we say that the Beatles aren’t global because they are not popular in India? That’s doubtful. Taylor isn’t a top seller in France, so what? It’s only one market, less than… Read more »

djdj

You don’t have to argue with this, because I said we have different standards. For me,an artist who is hugely and equally popular everywhere is finally called ultimately global (except Africa save South Africa)

MJD

Well djdj, the Beatles are definitely way more popular in the US / UK than they are in China, India, and Africa. It isn’t as if these markets don’t matter either as even if they used to not account for much, they add for half of the global population 🙂

djdj

the Beatles are definitely not that global, because they debut in early years, back then, international music wasn’t globally known as now. Besides, India and Africa have always been small markets for international music. China is not a small market for international music anymore now. Even physical albums are more collected by stans of any idol (pure musicians sold much less). For example, BTS’s new album sold nearly 600k physical copies and nearly 500k digital copies in China.Baekyun’s new album sold over 200k physical copies in China. They do not count into Chinese IFPI, because those are physical imports from… Read more »

Michael

Even if they werent that big in India and China they were big everywhere else. They made it big in all the relevant markets. Their sales in US, UK, Canada,Japan, France, Germany, etc. was bigger than Madonna’s sales in these countries. They sold 10 million albums in the Asian non Japan market. For 1960s act that was truly an amazing feat because the non Japan Asian market back then was extremely small and the fact they can sell that much speaks volume of their global appeal. Look at their sales in Latin America. Cumulatively speaking they sold more than 10… Read more »

djdj

I do have to repeat again that they are not equally popular everywhere because they debut in early years,when international music wasn’t that globally known everywhere. You point about those countries where they are all massive are pointless. Do I say that they are local?No, what I mean is they still were weak in many markets. It is delusional to ignore India and China where has a population of 2.7 billion and has official IFPI counting. I don’t know this has anything to do with Madonna, Madonna was even weaker in more markets. I don’t get your point. You like… Read more »

Michael

The point is ur trying to say that they arent global. Yes the market was weak back then for a lot of region. But they sold proportionally bigger in most asian/latin america (relative to market size) market compared to Lady Gaga, Madonna and most other global superstar in the world. What is ur definition of global? U mean a global superstar must have equally proportional sales in every single country/region. Well that is just laughable. If that is the case then Michael Jackson is the only global superstar in history. Wht even pointing out whether Taylor is global or not.… Read more »

djdj

I’m always stating facts, does this have anything to do with that I pointed out Gaga on Taylor comments?I’m just saying my thoughts. I do listen to Taylor, but the truth is although Taylor is the biggest now in Asia, in total she was not that big there. Her album Reputation was only 5xPlatinum in the Philippines, while lots of inteternational albums which released later outsold it. However, she is still unique in many other markets. Still some artists used to have equally popularity in most regions.

Michael

And again u choose Reputation which is considerrd a flop for her standards. Ur not stating facts. If u r stating facts u would admit that u r wrong right now. Because based on ur own statement which is

“in my opinion, when she got 3 to 4 times views overseas as in US, I can call her ultimately global.”

Taylor did have 3 times bigger overseas views. Just check her results at youtube analytics. Her US views are less than a quarter of her total views.

djdj

Reputation isn’t a flop, it still remains the second biggest pure album of 2017 and her best-selling album ever in China. Who told you that was a flop era? Besides, Reputation was not her worst selling album in the Philippines, it’s one of her best-selling album there. Basically, only Fearless and 1989 outsold Reputation in the Philippines, but still, with just 5xPlatinum. Then, she did have 3 times bigger overseas views, but India and Southeast Asia reprensents a lot. Her top 5 most viewed cities are all from Southeast Asia.

djdj

correcting my fault: only Fearless outsold Reputation in the Philippines, Reputation was 5xPlatinum and 1989 was 4xPlatinum, not bigger.

Michael

Ok it isnt a flop. But ur statement just proves that cumulatively she was a massive seller. Gaga had 2 good albums and thats it. Amd ur still not responding to me about ur own statement. Regarding this

“in my opinion, when she got 3 to 4 times views overseas as in US, I can call her ultimately global.”

djdj

OK taylor is global

Michael

U just said that an artist who has 3 times bigger views elsewhere vs the USA means she is ultimately global, in which Taylor does have more than 3 times bigger views worldwide vs the USA. So off course u r wrong and u are just too ego to admit that u r wrong.

Tommy

First of all, despite not being a top artist Taylor has decent European sales. Second of all, she doesn’t need Europe when shes a top international act in almost every Asian country. The world doesn’t revolve around Europe anymore.

Suzy

Yet another reason why MJ’s legacy will last. He is very strong not only in Western markets but in HUGE up and coming markets, like China, India.

Kean

No doubt. His name and legacy are unbeatable. The fact that he hit this entire Earth before the internet era is just WOW. I can imagine what would happen if he first released Off The Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory in this internet era with all his great MVs. YT, Spotify and other streaming platforms would have so much trouble LOL

2000Watts

I’m chinese fan of MJ,MJ is the most famous foreign star in china,but his dance is more popular

ikkie16

You have completely missed WINNER in the boy/girl group ranking. WINNER (35) has to come between 2NE1(34) and Super Junior (44).

1 2 3
96
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x