Spotify's Troy Carter on Drake's Streaming Success: 'Hit Records Make Us Look Really Smart'

Drake's "One Dance" became the first song to pass a billion streams on Spotify as streaming's explosive growth continues.

Earlier today, Drake's "One Dance" feat. WizKid and Kyla passed one billion streams on Spotify, becoming the first song ever to achieve that milestone on the platform. Already Spotify's most-played song ever -- it passed Major Lazer, DJ Snake and MØ's "Lean On" in October for the honor -- "One Dance" topped the streaming service's year-end charts, while Drake himself racked up 4.7 billion streams in the past 12 months, padding his lead as Spotify's most-streamed artist of all time (8.7 billion streams).

"One Dance," of course, was nigh inescapable in 2016, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 weeks. But what's made the song's milestone more impressive is that, in addition to it representing around one out of every four Drake songs streamed this year, it was released on April 5, meaning it passed one billion streams in just eight months. (Of course, with the rate of subscriptions increasing rapidly -- Spotify stands at 40 million -- streaming records are getting broken fairly quickly, but a billion is still a billion.) To mark the achievement, Billboard spoke to Spotify's global head of creator services Troy Carter the song's appeal, Drake's success and streaming's explosive growth.

Billboard: Why do you think this song in particular was able to reach that milestone in such a short amount of time?

Troy Carter: It's a phenomenal record, that's where it starts. It's just one of those rare records that translates throughout the world. Drake's always been great at really capturing hip-hop and pop sensibilities, but to be able to do that globally with a record like this is just amazing.

How much do you think the song's inclusion on some of your most-followed playlists helped?

I think that playlisting is definitely important; the only thing more important than playlisting is that people are saving and sharing. We always can put the music out in front of people, but it's up to the consumer to decide whether they want to listen to it more than once or whether they want to share it with their friends. That's the difference between radio and Spotify: this isn't a platform where you can push things on people, the only thing you can do is put it in front of them and let them make the decision from there.

How quickly do you see this milestone becoming a common benchmark?

The more people that come on the platform, we're seeing records getting broken in a shorter amount of time. Seeing the numbers that The Weeknd was able to put up recently, seeing the numbers that The Chainsmokers have been able to put up recently and seeing what Justin Bieber did and what Drake did, it just seems like these records are being broken one after another. Before, it was a big thing for an artist to get to a million streams, then that number became 50 million, then 100 million, and now it's a half a billion and a billion streams now. What I think that we love is the fact that the industry is no longer just talking about first-week numbers and SoundScan, they're talking about how consumers are actually interacting with the music and basing success off of those numbers.

What makes Drake such an ideal artist for the streaming era?

Drake doesn't lock himself into an album cycle. When Drake wants to put out music and he feels like it's ready, Drake puts out music. So it's not the typical, "I'm gonna put out two singles, then launch my album, then go on tour, then wait two years and go back in the studio and release this music." I think he really has captured that rhythm of how fans want to consume music. They want to listen to the Views album, but when he comes out with "Fake Love" or any other song, they want that, too, and they don't want to have to wait for a year and a half for it. I think he really has great instincts for it and it's working.

What did you take away from the success of "One Dance"?

Hit records make us look really smart. [Laughs] I think Drake made a monster of a record and people responded, and I think our guys within Spotify are just getting better and better at how to put music out in front of more and more people and when it all comes together it works.


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