'Despacito' Is a Record-Breaker Thanks to Streaming's Growing Popularity
The song's a proven hit, but its latest success owes thanks to the increasing popularity of streaming in general.
When Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's runaway hit "Despacito" broke the global streaming record on Wednesday, it was an impressive feat, to be sure. But the record-setting run of more than 4.6 billion streams in just six months comes in part simply thanks to the increasing popularity of streaming in general.
According to Nielsen Music's U.S. Mid-Year Report, on-demand audio streams reached nearly 184 billion in the first half of the 2017, while overall on-demand streams (including video) have passed 284 billion streams -- a 36.4 percent increase over the same period last year.
On a global scale, according to the IFPI's Global Music Report from earlier this year, there were 112 million paying streaming subscribers around the world at the end of 2016 -- nearly double the 68 million at the same time a year earlier. And in Latin America in particular, streaming revenue grew 57 percent in 2016.
The global streaming record is just the latest victory for "Despacito," which looks on track to rack up more wins throughout the year. Upon the track's release on Jan. 13, "Despacito" set Vevo records for most views of a Spanish-language video in 24 hours with 5.4 million hits, as well as for the fastest such video to reach 200 million views (22 days) and 2 billion views (154 days).
It is just the 35th single to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart for at least 10 weeks and is now in competition to beat out the record for the longest stint at No. 1, which is owned Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men whose "One Sweet Day" ruled for 16 weeks in 1995-96. "Despacito," which means "slowly" in Spanish, has seen a rise that was anything but sluggish.
But with streaming's steadily increasing numbers, Mark Mulligan, music industry analyst at Midia Research, told Billboard that this is just the beginning of the record-setting that's likely to happen more frequently in the months ahead.
Speaking about Wiz Khalifa's "See You Again" video featuring Charlie Puth that recently topped Psy's "Gangham Style" as YouTube's most-viewed video of all time, Mulligan predicted soon enough other clips will top YouTube, one after another and at a faster rate. With more than 2,685 billion views and a rough average of 20 million more views each day, Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's hit looks on pace to become the internet's top video as well. And, when it does, this too will be thanks to the song's popularity as well as the format's evolution.
In 2015, YouTube published a report on the accelerating pace at which music videos were reaching the billion view-mark. Couple that finding with a 17 percent uptick in YouTube's music users between 2015 and 2016 up to 1.2 billion, according to Mulligan, who also pointed to a 25 percent increase in total YouTube music video streams and a 7 percent increase in average monthly music video streams from 2015 to 2016.
In addition, streaming services are getting more savvy at retaining their audiences. Mulligan pointed to Vevo and YouTube's successful efforts to drive more music views through recommendation algorithms, while YouTube's autoplay function has resulted in greater music consumption per user session. Not to mention, the increased use of messaging apps that account for 7 billion monthly users around the world, per Mulligan, have also boosted discovery and link sharing.
"In short, expect records to get broken more routinely," said Mulligan.