30% of All U.S. Music Streams in 2018 Were R&B/Hip-Hop, With Drake the Most-Streamed Artist of Year

Marc Carlton

Marc Carlton

Publicist at Starlight PR

Drake is first artist to earn 10 billion streams in a year, while total on-demand streams totaled 901 billion in 2018 — up 43 percent. 

Drake was the king of streaming in 2018, as he finished the year as the most-streamed artist in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. The superstar collected 11.13 billion on-demand streams for his catalog of songs (in both audio and video streams) -- a yearly record for an artist, surpassing his own record of 6.4 billion in 2017.

Drake is also the first act to earn 10 billion streams for his songs in a calendar year.

Drake’s streaming haul represented 1.2 percent of total streams across all artists in all genres. In total, 901 billion on-demand streams were registered in 2018 -- up 42.6 percent over 2017.

Drake’s streams were fueled greatly by the success of his album Scorpion, which generated 4.57 billion on-demand audio streams -- the most-streamed album of 2018. (Meanwhile, the set’s songs collected another 1.76 billion in on-demand video streams.)

R&B/HIP-HOP DOMINATES STREAMING: The combined genre of R&B/hip-hop continues to be the heaviest hitter on streaming services, with the genre accounting for 30 percent of all on-demand streams in 2018 (267.4 billion clicks of the 901 billion total).

The second-largest genre in 2018 streaming was rock music, with a 14.2 percent share of the market (127.5 billion streams).

Overall on-demand audio streams vaulted 49 percent to 611 billion, while on-demand video streams surged 30 percent to 290 billion.

RAP RULES AMONG MOST-STREAMED ARTISTS: Following Drake on the list of the most-streamed acts of 2018 are eight more hip-hop acts: Post Malone (7.51 billion), XXXTentacion (6.91 billion), Eminem (4.82 billion), YoungBoy Never Broke Again (4.46 billion), Migos (4.17 billion), Travis Scott (4.01 billion), Cardi B (3.99 billion) and Lil Baby (3.32 billion). Rounding out the top 10 most-streamed acts of 2018 is pop superstar Ariana Grande, with 3.28 billion clicks.

“GOD’S PLAN” IS YEAR’S MOST-STREAMED SONG: Drake’s smash single “God’s Plan” finishes 2018 as the most-streamed song of the year, as it accumulated 1.566 billion on-demand audio and video streams -- a calendar-year record for a song. It was one of four titles to surpass 1 billion streams in 2018, up from just a single billion-streamer in 2017 (Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” featuring Justin Bieber, with 1.32 billion).

The top 10 most-streamed songs of 2018 were unsurprisingly dominated by hip-hop titles, with Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” being the only non-hip-hop effort in the region (at No. 9, with 797.27 million streams).

Nielsen Music’s 2018 tracking year ran from Dec. 29, 2017, through Jan. 3, 2019. Due to a quirk in the calendar, there were 53 weeks in 2018 instead of the usual 52. So for 2018 volume comparisons to 2017, a corresponding 53-week period is used by Nielsen Music for 2017: Dec. 30, 2016 through Jan. 4, 2018. Numbers in this story are rounded.

TOP 10 MOST STREAMED SONGS OF 2018 IN U.S., ON-DEMAND AUDIO & VIDEO COMBINEDRankArtist, TitleStreams1Drake, "God's Plan"1,565,711,0002Juice WRLD, "Lucid Dreams"1,107,289,0003Drake, "In My Feelings"1,100,534,0004XXXTentacion, "Sad!"1,026,294,0005Post Malone featuring Ty Dolla $ign, "Psycho"924,496,0006Post Malone featuring 21 Savage, "Rockstar"905,440,0007Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin, "I Like It"873,494,0008Drake, "Nice for What"844,403,0009Ed Sheeran, "Perfect"797,274,00010BlocBoy JB featuring Drake, "Look Alive"766,073,000Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period Dec. 29, 2017 through Jan. 3, 2019.

 TOP 10 ON-DEMAND STREAMS OF 2018 IN U.S., AUDIO-ONLYRankArtist, TitleStreams1Drake, "God's Plan"917,872,0002Post Malone featuring Ty Dolla $ign, "Psycho"594,516,0003Drake, "Nice for What"576,214,0004Juice WRLD, "Lucid Dreams"572,972,0005XXXTentacion, "Sad!"565,324,0006Post Malone featuring 21 Savage, "Rockstar"525,971,0007Drake, "In My Feelings"522,591,0008BlocBoy JB featuring Drake, "Look Alive"522,155,0009Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin, "I Like It"508,202,00010Travis Scott, "Sicko Mode"479,509,000Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period Dec. 29, 2017 through Jan. 3, 2019.

 TOP 10 ON-DEMAND STREAMS OF 2018 IN U.S., VIDEO-ONLY RankArtist, TitleStreams1Drake, "God's Plan"647,839,0002Drake, "In My Feelings"577,943,0003Juice WRLD, "Lucid Dreams"534,317,0004XXXTentacion, "Sad!"460,970,0005Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, "Despacito"422,743,0006Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B, "Girls Like You"415,292,0007Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug, "Havana"399,510,0008Ella Mai, "Boo'd Up"398,445,0009Post Malone featuring 21 Savage, "Rockstar"379,468,00010Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin, "I Like It"365,292,000Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period Dec. 29, 2017 through Jan. 3, 2019.