If you haven’t been watching the music video for Despacito on a loop this summer, you’ve been doing the Internet wrong. The song, which is performed by Luis Fonsi and features Daddy Yankee, has dominated airwaves and playlists for weeks on end this year, becoming one of 2017’s biggest earworms.
Indeed, it became YouTube’s most-watched video a couple of months ago, overtaking Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s See You Again, famed for its use in Fast & Furious 7. To achieve that mammoth feat, Despacito racked up just over 3 billion views in under three months – a neat contradiction of its title, which means “slowly” in English.
Despacito is not short of competition, as the rise of online streaming means that a growing number of pop hits are regularly breaking records: Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do was played 10.13 million times on its day of release in August, more than any other song, before racking up 43.2 million views in 24 hours, the highest number of views in a day ever recorded on YouTube.
Now, though, Despacito has hit back to reassert its dominance on the web, becoming the first YouTube video ever to reach 4 billion views. Forbes notes that the latest 100 million views have been recorded in only a week and a half, which means that the latest billion views of the song accumulated at a rate of 14.7 million views per day, the same rate as for the first 3 billion – a remarkable display of continuing momentum. Look What You Made Me Do, for example, is racking up views at a rate of 12.3 million per day.
Look What You Made Me Do: Taylor Swift video breaks four streaming records
4th September 2017
Taylor Swift has broken four streaming records in the last 10 days, as her new single races to the top of YouTube and Spotify charts.
The music video was released on 27th August, hot on the heels of its Spotify release and just in time for the Bank Holiday Weekend. Directed by Joseph Kahn, it sees her raid the bank vault of a music streaming company – a prophetic vision of what was to happen in the coming hours, as people flocked to watch the track.
YouTube has rapidly become a major force in music streaming – not always with many fans on the music industry side – and the rate at which people are breaking records on the site are not only testament to each artist’s popularity but also the growing prominence of digital music distribution. Earlier this summer, Wiz Khalifa overtook Psy’s Gangnam Style to become the most-viewed video on YouTube. Now, Taylor has swiftly overtaken Ed Sheeran and Adele to raise the bar to new heights.
On Spotify, Look What You Made Me Do was played 10.13 million times on its day of release, more than any other song has achieved – including Ed Sheeran’s previous record holder, Shape of You. It also broke YouTube’s single day streaming record, with a consolidated 43.2 million views in 24 hours, beating Adele’s Hello.
The song’s lyric video also drew 19 million views in a day, doubling the views from the previous record holder, Something Just Like This, by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay.
The BBC notes that over the initial weekend, Look What You Made Me Do saw its popularity decrease, as viewings dropped off – racking up 5.43 million listens on Spotify on Saturday, down by 2.48 million. Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, on the other hand, saw its tally rise in its second 24 hours. As of today, the YouTube video has 182.76 million views.
Despacito: YouTube’s most-watched video and a sign of the changing times
8th August 2017
Despacito has officially become YouTube’s most-watched video, with over 3 billion views.
The song, which is performed by Luis Fonsi and features Daddy Yankee, has been the song of the summer, dominating airwaves and playlists for weeks on end. Having a song that sticks in your ears during the holidays is nothing new, but Despacito’s rise to the top of the streaming ladder is a sign of the changing times.
The video raced to its top spot at the weekend, outstripping the video for Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s See You Again, which only because YouTube’s most-watched video a month ago. It’s not taking the stealing of its crown lightly – that song, which became unexpectedly iconic through its use in the Fast & Furious 7 soundtrack, is currently on 3.006 billion views, just behind Despacito’s 3.074 billion. With the latter enjoying the momentum of a newer release, though, racking up millions a week, Fonsi’s hit is unlikely to be dethroned any time soon.
The rapid rise is a neat contradiction of its title, which means “slowly” in English – it’s taken only three months to pass the rare 3 billion mark. That sheer number of views is testament to how many people use YouTube to consume music – a shift that continues to spread ripple across the music industry.
“Thank you YouTube,” Fonsi said in a post on Instagram. “I recognise the influence that the platform has. The music industry has changed. The rules of music have changed. And YouTube has a big responsibility.”
But the track’s success is a sign of the changing times on another level too. The song’s number one spot in the chart marked the first time a Spanish-language song had reached that point since Macarena back in 1996, notes The Guardian – and, despite the political landscape of 2017, the connected age of the Internet is helping different cultures and languages find audiences and fans around the world.
Justin Bieber fuelled the rocketing success of the song, with a remix that added some English lyrics to the SPanish original, but it’s the original that has reaped the benefits. Forbes notes that while the song has reached almost 400 million views in Mexico, it’s got 146 million in Italy, 41 million in Indonesia and 18 million in Israel – it’s the most-viewed video of the year in more than 40 countries. In fact, more than one-third YouTube’s 100 most popular artists of 2017 are Latin acts.
This, perhaps most of all, is the sign of the impact YouTube can have, not only changing the way music is released, but also revealing audience trends that might not otherwise have been seen.
“That Latin consumer even dwarfs the R&B/hip-hop consumer in terms of how important streaming is to them,” Nielsen’s David Bakula tells Forbes. “The Latin music consumer really skipped over digital sales. It’s because that demographic is not a computer-owning and computer-centric consumer. But when you moved it over to the phone, their life is on their phone.”
While Despacito’s position as the song of the summer is unquestionable, one thing is certain: it won’t be slowly, slowly until another video comes along to replace it.
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