Which Spotify song was the first to hit one billion streams?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Daniel Ek, CEO of Swedish music streaming service Spotify, poses for photographers at a press conference in Tokyo on September 29, 2016. 
Spotify kicked off its services in Japan on September 29. / AFP / TORU YAMANAKA        (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images)
Daniel Ek, CEO of Swedish music streaming service Spotify (TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images)

This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series

When Canadian rapper Drake’s ‘One Dance’ hit a billion Spotify streams in 2016, it was a landmark moment for the streaming service. 

There are now 175 songs on Spotify’s ‘Billions Club’ playlist (including another by Drake, God’s Plan), which showcases every song to have hit the landmark.

Spotify itself is valued at more than $40 billion (£29 billion) - a far cry from when it launched on October 7, 2008. 

When Daniel Ek launched Spotify in 2008, the world was in the depths of the credit crunch, and many were sceptical that the Swedish start-up could succeed. 

At the time, paid downloads from iTunes reigned supreme in digital music, and music labels were battling an epidemic of piracy via BitTorrent sites and file-sharing services. 

Around 95% of music downloads were illegal at the time. 

Daniel Ek said that his goal with Spotify was to create something that was ‘easier to use’ than BitTorrent and Limewire. 

Canadian rapper Drake accepts the award for Best Rap Song for
Canadian rapper Drake accepts the award for Best Rap Song for "Gods Plan" during the 61st Annual Grammy Awards (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

He famously said, ‘You can never legislate away from piracy. Laws can definitely help, but it doesn't take away the problem. The only way to solve the problem was to create a service that was better than piracy and at the same time compensates the music industry.’

But Ek also had the idea that ‘owning’ music would soon be a thing of the past.

Ek said in 2008, ‘While people undoubtedly want more music, the quantity of media out there means people simply don't have the affection for individual songs that they used to have, and they don't want to buy track-by-track.’

The demand was there. 


How the unsolved 'Tylenol murders' changed the way we take pills

Why Sean Connery broke his promise to never play James Bond again

Soon after launch Ek said, ‘We've been overwhelmed, to be honest - we've even had a few problems scaling the service to the number of people who want to use it.’

Mark Zuckerberg said later, ‘Daniel Ek of Spotify just saw the opportunities of streaming music before anyone else.’

The first version of Spotify was rather different to the streaming behemoth we know today. 

Watch: Olivia Rodrigo tops Spotify's most-streamed summer songs

Firstly, there were no phone apps (users could only access it via PC), and users could ONLY stream, as record labels were nervous about giving away downloads. 

The first version was also free, supported by adverts inserted into the app and (occasionally) into the audio. 

There were also large holes in the music collection, with artists such as The Beatles, Metallica, Bob Dylan and AC/DC refusing to engage with streaming music. 

But Ek pulled off the key strategic victory of getting every major label to sign on to Spotify, and as the music library grew, Apple’s iTunes began to seem more and more irrelevant. 

Holdouts such as Metallica and The Beatles all eventually caved in and released their music on streaming formats - as streaming became the dominant way to consume music around the world. 

In 2019, Apple closed down iTunes Store, unveiling its own streaming service, Apple Music, instead. 

Daniel Ek’s personal net worth is $3.7 billion (£2.7 billion) and he is currently bidding to own Arsenal football club. 

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting