Yesterday it was revealed that Ed Sheeran’s hit track ‘Thinking Out Loud‘ was the first to reach 500 million streams on Spotify, a landmark number for the streaming service and the English singer-songwriter. This is a first for Spotify as well as the entire music streaming industry as Spotify holds the top spot with over double the users of it’s rivals.
That is unless you include YouTube, the biggest video hosting website in the world and also the most popular place to listen to music. As impressive as 500 millions streams for a single track is the music video for Sheeran’s song has over 750 million views on YouTube. And that isn’t the most viewed music video by far.
In fact there are 10 music videos on YouTube that surpass the 1 billion mark, an impressive feat up until this year when 8 of the videos in the “Billion Views Club” were released. You may remember the first video that reached the milestone in 2012, Psy’s viral hit ‘Gangnam Style‘. This was followed by Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby‘ which was the second video to accumulate 1 billion views 4 years after it’s release.
This year we have not only seen the number of videos over 1 billion views quadruple, but the time it took these videos to amass those billion views has reduced too. Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s tribute to Paul Walker, ‘See You Again’, took only six months to reach 1 billion views, ‘Gangnam Style’ being the only video to do it quicker.
What’s most interesting to note is that all the videos in the “Billion Views Club” are music videos, despite the platforms multimedia approach. So why is YouTube dominating the online music market, even ahead of music streaming services? It’s not really known though it’s assumed to be a cumulation of it’s simplistic design along with it’s free platform and the appeal of visuals alongside the music.
With YouTube set to officially release it’s new YouTube Music Key subscription service sometime within the next month (unless it’s delayed again) it’s clear that YouTube aren’t stepping down in the music streaming landscape. There are criticisms over music on YouTube as the current system allows for anyone to upload anything, including others’ music, and monetise it however with increasingly more effective content ID systems this is hopefully an issue on it’s way out the door.
This isn’t to say that streaming services are at all redundant as they offer a platform with massive libraries of music, higher quality, less copies and covers and a lot more features for music that YouTube currently can’t offer. YouTube may be winning for overall plays of music but when it comes to usability and functionality music streaming services are still miles ahead and that is represented in the mass increase of music streaming this year which has almost doubled since last year.
So a billion views may no longer be exclusive to Psy and Justin Bieber but for now, Psy is alone in reaching 2 billion views and it’s likely going to be a long time before we see anyone join him.