Every country has its natural resources. And every country on Earth can count its musicians among them. Science has proved that music exists in all cultures. Songwriters everywhere create music for the same fundamental reasons, including ‘infant care, healing, dance, and love.’
But are they making the same bucks?
S Money calculated the Spotify earnings of the most-streamed song by artists of every country. Then we counted the takings of the most Spotified track in each country and put both sets of data into interactive tables with playable clips. Scroll on for a pan-cultural hit parade.
- The most valuable song in the world is Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, with Spotify earnings of $13,347,665 US Dollars (USD).
- North America’s most valuable song is rockstar by Post Malone from the US, which earned $10,409,424 USD.
- Australia is the source of Spotify’s third most valuable song: Dance Monkey by Tones and I $10,298,960 USD or $13,271,000 AUD.
- The most-streamed song in a single country is Post Malone’s rockstar, which has played 715 million times in the US, earning $3,503,483 USD.
Ed Sheeran from the UK wrote Spotify’s most valuable song in just 90 minutes – but this could be because he allegedly took his ideas from other songwriters. In fact, Spotify froze payments for Shape Of You until the copyright battle could be resolved. A shame, because the song has been spun 2,724,013,193 times around the world, totting up $13.35m in royalties.
Nicki Minaj also makes our list – but as a song rather than a musician. The most valuable song from Andorra (a tiny principality in the European Pyrenees), Nicki Minaj, is performed by Diktion, and was reported in the local press as “trending with over 22,000 views on YouTube.” The song has played 30,878 times on Spotify, totting up $151 for Diktion, who explains: “Here in Andorra only hard rap has been done, this music has never been done.”
The Whole World Loves Local Hip-Hop
Take a closer look at our data with this interactive table. Click the buttons to highlight songs from certain genres, and hit play for a blast of each local act made good.
Spotify users dig international hip hop. The top songs from 24 countries belong to this genre, making it the most-represented in the world. The most valuable, Post Malone’s rockstar, is from the US, of course. But a German hip hop track has also generated a seven-figure paycheck. Roller by Apache 207 has earned $1,217,281 from nearly 250 million plays.
You might expect to find some weird and wonderful genres in among the ‘world music,’ but Spotify users prefer to play it straight. The most unusual genre that appears in our study is rock, which represents just one country: Czech Republic. Rock track Svaz českých bohémů by Wohnout has earned $37,978 from 7.75m clicks.
Avicii’s Song the Most-Played in Sweden
Does familiarity breed contempt? Perhaps not. The most-streamed song in six of the ten highest-streaming countries is local to that territory. Post Malone’s rockstar in the US; Shape Of You in the UK; and Apache 207’s Roller in Germany are among them. The latter has earned $1.03m from local plays alone.
Among other local heroes is the late Swedish DJ and musician Avicii. The much-loved performer died by his own hand in 2018, aged 28. His track Wake Me Up has been played 117,178,113 times in his home country, earning $574,173. It is also Sweden’s top Spotify export, earning $6.01m from 1,227,990,897 (1.23 billion) plays around the world. At one point, Wake Me Up was Spotify’s most-played song ever.
The True Value of World Music
Music is a universal joy with familiar motifs from culture to culture, but two other rules are at play:
- Local pride and familiar nuances often make a nation’s songs big hitters at home.
- But an international banger is an international banger.
As a platform, Spotify serves certain types of listener and listening habits. But there are infinite worlds of music to discover across the planet and all sorts of fun (and better paying) ways to find and support international musicians. Listener, the most valuable song may be the song you carry in your heart.
METHODOLOGY & SOURCES
Using weekly totals data from Kworb, we recorded the most-streamed song in every country. We then checked that the top song and artist was from the country - if not, we moved down the list until we found a song from a local artist.
Next we visited the artist’s Spotify profile and recorded the global streaming number for the song. Then we took the number of streams in a country and multiplied it by $0.0049 (the per-stream payout estimate from Digital Music News).
We also used data from Kworb to record the most-streamed song of all time in every country, regardless of the nationality of the artist.
The data was collected in February 2021.