The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’ Tops Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ to Become Spotify’s Most-Streamed Song of All Time

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The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” has officially surpassed Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” to become the most-streamed Spotify song of all time.

Word of the stream-total shift just recently came to light in a social-media post from Chart Data. And at the time of this writing, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” (2017) had 3,332,970,120 Spotify streams to its credit – now slightly beneath “Blinding Lights” (2019) and the 3,334,180,640 streams that it’s racked up on the audio-entertainment platform.

31-year-old Ed Sheeran, who last year became the first artist to secure 100 million Spotify followers, doesn’t appear to have addressed the development publicly. But The Weeknd, who created a song for the new Avatar film and ranked highly on Spotify’s list of most-streamed artists for 2022, celebrated the news on social media.

“happy new years to blinding lights. the most streamed song of all time tonight @Spotify,” penned the Toronto native, who in a follow-up post drew attention to the quick-approaching one-year anniversary of Dawn FM’s release.

Besides owning the uppermost spot on the list of Spotify’s top-streamed tracks, “Blinding Lights” is the newest song featured within the same list’s top 10, where just two other works (“Dance Monkey” and “Señorita”) released in 2019.

Zero of the list’s top-10 songs dropped in 2020, 2021, or 2022 – though “Stay,” which Justin Bieber and The Kid Laroi debuted in July of 2021, is threatening to boot the aforementioned “Señorita” from the 10th spot.

Also worth highlighting is the sizable listenership gap between “Shape of You” and “Blinding Lights,” each of which boasts substantially more Spotify streams than third-ranked “Dance Monkey” (2.73 billion on-platform streams) and fourth-positioned “Someone You Loved” (nearly 2.60 billion on-platform streams), and the list’s other songs.

Similarly, acts signed to Universal Music Group, which still possesses a stake in Spotify, have released six of the 10 most-streamed songs on the service.

Spotify execs have publicly acknowledged their company’s close collaboration with Universal Music on promotional initiatives, and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in a November of 2022 report touched upon the Big Three’s far-reaching influence on key platform-curated playlists.

“Some agreements contain obligations on the music streaming service to ensure that a major’s share of tracks within some playlists broadly corresponds to its overall share of streams,” the CMA spelled out.

Looking forward to the whole of 2023, it’ll be interesting to follow the impact of these points, the steady stream of new music on Spotify and competing services, and, perhaps most importantly, the pernicious effect of “songs” created by artificial intelligence.

Logic and evidence suggest that AI “music” could begin flooding streaming platforms sooner rather than later, likely releasing through “fake” or “virtual” artist profiles. Of course, this will reduce already-abysmal per-stream royalty rates and take the spotlight away from proper artists (and real humans) who have merch to sell, tours to plan, and careers to build.

However, the emergence of the “fan-powered” royalty model, under which artists are compensated based upon actual listening as opposed to their share of an ever-inflated stream pool, appears to represent a relative bright spot in the otherwise bleak situation.