Taylor Swift moves past Drake, makes Spotify history

The unprecedented run of success enjoyed by Taylor Swift since the start of the Eras Tour in March 2023 has no end in sight. She now tops Drake to take the all-time crown of Spotify.

A turbulent history with Spotify

Drake felt like the inevitable leader for many years. He had everything for him: outstanding success, a hugely prolific release schedule, and a fan base along with himself who embraced streaming right from the start. We may remember that One Dance became the most streamed track on the platform’s history in part thanks to its absence from YouTube, and he promoted his much anticipated More Life as a playlist rather than an album.

This pro-audio streaming approach enabled him to become the first artist to reach 10 billion lead streams on Spotify, then 20 billion, 30 billion, 40 billion, 50 billion, 60 billion, 70 billion… but he isn’t leading anymore.

At her end, Swift was in an open war with the Swedish tech giant in mid-10s. Before that, she was already a streaming beast on her own. Shake It Off powered to #1 globally with 11,924,637 weekly streams, the 2nd all-time score at this point. It led charts for 4 weeks, and entered the all-time top 200 tracks after a mere 6 weeks. Then the American singer removed her catalog from the audio streaming software, only days after 1989 was released without streaming availability. Her blame also went against Apple Music. She returned in June 2017.

A lost chase

A lot has been said about these missing 3 years. When Swift pulled off her catalog in November 2014, she had just hit 500 million cumulative streams a few weeks before. Rihanna was leading the way with over 1.5 billion streams, both DJs David Guetta and Avicii were over 1.2 billion, while Eminem and Calvin Harris had just topped a billion.

Then, when she returned in June 2017, the leader was already Drake, who had passed 10 billion a quarter earlier. While at the time a 10 billion deficit felt like something impossible to catch, this isn’t that much of a deal compared to the 72.5 billion lead streams both artists Swift and Drake claim now.

Maybe a larger handicap than these 10 billion streams was her image related to streams. Seen as anti-freemium platforms, with a demographics that was clearly favoring purchases, and a generation of fans used to download, it was hard to fight the prime hip hop star. By 2017, this genre was crushing streaming sites.

By the time Drake was up to 30 billion in April 2020, Swift was closing in 11 billion, meaning the gap had grown to 19 billion. The former was at the top, while the latter was off a pair of albums that somehow failed to match expectations after the smash of 1989. Even relative newcomers like Post Malone were up to 19 billion, being the main challengers for Drake. It was a lost chase for Swift in the streaming battle.

folklore, a pivotal moment

In July 2020, Taylor Swift shocked the world once again. After moving from country to pop, she dropped folklore, an indie release. It was a major shift after the blockbuster pop records reputation and Lover. The roll out also came as a shock. In the middle of COVID-19 lockdowns, folklore was a surprise release, announced hours before coming out, and was first available as a digital album only.

Her 10 million daily streams she was enjoying previously climbed to 15 million on low days. From that moment on, she managed to match Drake‘s ongoing pace. Indeed, the widest gap between the two happened the day before folklore‘s release, with a 20.21 billion lead in favor of the Canadian singer.

The success of the album, without going through the usual superlative promotional efforts, led the singer to dive into this new, more stripped down strategy, strongly increasing her pace of release. A few months later only, evermore came out, and in 2021-2023, five additional albums got released.

Of course, four of them are part of the immensely popular run of re-recordings, born from a feud with former manager Scooter Braun. After each of these albums, her organic streams were going up, on top of the usual record breaking debuts.

By 2020 included, 25 distinct artists had made the annual top 5 most streamed artists published by Spotify since 2013. Incredibly, Swift wasn’t one of them. The sudden growth of her catalog and her pro-streaming approach shoot her to #2 in 2021 and then again in 2022. She was now comfortably pacing at 30 million daily streams in quiet periods.

Taking over the crown

The release of Midnights in late 2022 ended to install her as the dominant artist on Spotify.

The phenomenal Eras Tour, the Grammy’s success, the concert movie, her love story with a Superbowl winner, the viral smash Cruel Summer, Time magazine person of the year… 2023 was an insane year for the artist who broke all kind of records, powering the largest streaming year of all-time. In a bad day, she currently amasses 70+ million streams, something unheard of.

This gigantic success saw her start catching up on Drake. While the gap was still over 17 billion by the release of Midnights, it was down below 10 billion by late June 2023. In October of this year, a restructuration of the rapper’s catalog added 2.2 billion streams to his tally, as tracks previously regarded as features entered his main page.

Even this extra push wasn’t enough. Over the last 8 months, Drake averaged almost 1.3 billion streams per month, which is amazing. It almost feels weak yet compared to Taylor Swift‘s monthly pace, standing at 2.8 billion.

The inevitable has now happened. With streams up to February 23rd, 2024 included, Swift is now at 72,502,219,706 streams, 5 million more than Drake at 72,496,782,731. After over 7 years, we have a new leader. Dominating pure sales for years, Taylor Swift now reigns supreme over streaming too.

Drake and Taylor Swift Spotify growth

We have more for you

… our analyses of Taylor Swift‘s success through all formats and through streaming only

… our review of Taylor Swift‘s global reach

… about ChartMasters’ streaming tool, the primary source for this article’s data:

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