Spotify has released its annual year in music list, naming Drake the most-played artist of the year. The Canadian rapper had 1.8 billion streams across 46 million listeners up to this point, but Ed Sheeran still reigns supreme as Spotify’s most streamed artist of all time, with over 3 billion streams to his name to this point. The statistics come from the data Spotify collects from its 75 million listeners (including both paid subscribers, and listeners on the service’s free, ad-based tier). The massive listener base streamed over 20 billion hours of music in 2015.
The top five most streamed artists are Drake, Ed Sheeran, The Weekend, Maroon 5, and Kanye West. They were all male, with female musicians failing to generate enough streams to reach break through. That said, women are still racking up a ton of plays on the service, with Rihanna topping the list of female artists on over 1 billion streams, followed by Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Ellie Goulding. Rihanna also had more individual listeners than Drake, with 57 million, possibly indicating a more die-hard set of fans for the male artist. Spotify had over 20 million paying subscribers at last count, and 55 million more ad-based freeloaders. In terms of total listeners, the service is just five million behind internet radio streamer Pandora, which has been around 80 million for a while.
Critics say that Spotify and companies like it aren’t paying out enough to artists it adds up to somewhere between, $.006 to $.0084 being paid out to artists per play. To put that in perspective in terms of this year end list, Drake can expect to get a check for as much as $15 million dollars for his 1.8 billion streams if it all works out. Spotify’s executives hope that as the service grows its user base, payouts to all artists will increase.