The Highest-Earning Song in Every Country
There’s no doubt about it: streaming services like Spotify have revolutionized the way we listen to music. Where once enjoying music meant first rifling through a stack of CDs or paying (and waiting) for a download, Spotify instead offers 100 million tracks at the touch of a button.
Spotify has also changed how we find music. For example, personalized playlists, powered by algorithms based on the user’s music taste, meant that Spotify recommended over 30% of overall listening in 2017. Tracks by little-known artists that otherwise would remain obscure are pushed to the forefront and up the charts, thanks again to Spotify’s playlists.
But the world’s most popular streaming service doesn’t get access to these tunes for free — in 2021 alone, Spotify shelled out 7 billion dollars in royalties to the music industry. What you may not know is that users have a say in just how much is paid to music makers, with a pay-per-stream fee generated each time a song is played.
With this in mind, our analysts at NetCredit got to thinking: based on local listeners all over the world, which songs are earning the most money in each country on Spotify?
How We Conducted This Study
We first retrieved each country’s ‘weekly totals’ chart from Kworb, giving us figures representing the total number of streams for songs that have spent at least one week in the top weekly charts of Spotify. After sorting the songs into genres using the Spotify API, we could then discover each country’s highest-earning song in each genre and overall by multiplying their total stream count by Spotify’s pay-per-stream rate of $0.005 USD.
- Sunflower by Post Malone has made the most money overall ($4.5 million from U.S. listens)
- Blinding Lights by The Weeknd is the highest-earning song in 10 countries (more than any other individual song)
- Most of the highest-earning EDM songs are by a handful of artists, including Avicii, Elton John, SAINt JHN, the Chainsmokers or Tiësto
- Meanwhile, top-earning hip-hop/rap songs are often by local artists
Sunflower by Post Malone Has Made the Most Money on Spotify, Thanks to U.S. Listeners
Based on earnings generated by local plays on Spotify, we’ve mapped the highest-earning song in every country. Overall, Sunflower by American rapper Post Malone has made the most money — $4.5 million thanks to listeners in the U.S. Created for the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie in 2018, this best-selling hit spent 33 weeks in the top ten of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 songs chart and picked up two Grammy nominations.
Blinding Lights by the Weeknd is the highest-earning song in 10 countries, which is more than any other individual song. Released in 2019, this hit is one of only two songs to have surpassed three billion listens on Spotify, beating out Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You to be the most streamed song of all time on the platform. The song’s global success across streaming platforms and download services also saw it awarded an IFPI Global Digital Single Award.
Other top-earning songs across our world map run the gamut of genres, from pop love ballads (Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi) to reggaeton tunes like Me Rehúso by Danny Ocean, launched to global success by its inclusion in Spotify playlists.
Songs by the Neighbourhood, the Killers and Imagine Dragons Among the Highest-Earning Rock Hits
The U.S. is a nation of rock music lovers, with the genre placed as the second-most popular for Americans to stream. But which rock song in the U.S. and other countries makes the most money from local Spotify streamers?
Sweater Weather by the Neighbourhood takes the crown in the U.S., having banked $2.1 million from stateside streams. It’s also the highest-earning in nine other countries, including Poland ($184k) and Romania ($27k). Outside of Spotify, this hit song reached international popularity on TikTok (one of the world’s most popular social networks), where it became a ‘bisexual anthem.’
In 12 countries, Believer by Imagine Dragons comes out on top, earning the most money overall ($662k) in Brazil, where the American band acknowledged their “surprising” popularity.
Meanwhile, proving that not all Spotify favorites are new releases, the Killers’ 2003 hit Mr. Brightside is the highest-earning rock song in the UK, Australia and Ireland. Brits might not be surprised to learn that Mr. Brightside has earned the most in the UK ($1.2 million) — despite being the work of an American band, this hit song’s enduring popularity in the UK is something of a cultural fixture.
Similarly, Journey’s rock anthem Don’t Stop Believin’ — which has seen renewed popularity repeatedly over the years since its 1981 release — comes up top in Canada and Sweden.
Mix of Local Artists and International Stars Claim the Highest-Earning Hip-Hop/Rap Songs
While hip-hop and rap may have originated in the U.S., the genre has gone global, and homegrown talent claims the highest-earning hip-hop/rap songs in several countries. Polish rapper Kizo’s song Disney is the highest-earning ($270k) in Poland, while Dutch rapper Frenna comes out on top in the Netherlands for his song Verleden Tijd. Likewise, songs by the Israeli star Jasmin Moallem, Finnish music duo JVG and Swedish group Hov1 are the highest-earning in their respective countries.
But international stars like Drake take the crown elsewhere. In 14 countries, his 2016 hit One Dance is the highest-earning hip-hop/rap song, banking the most ($948k) from listeners in the UK, where the track remained at number one for 15 consecutive weeks. As for why the song remained popular for so long, according to the Guardian, the song’s inclusion on 1.3 million playlists gives the track an “energy source that powers it up the charts and keeps it there.”
Meanwhile, despite Lil Nas X’s viral TikTok claiming he isn’t famous in Japan, his song INDUSTRY BABY in fact takes the crown as the highest-earning ($47k) hip-hop/rap song there. Songs by Post Malone are the highest-earning elsewhere, including rockstar in six countries and I Fall Apart in Australia, where it earned close to half a million dollars.
Snapchat Sensation Roses (Imanbek Remix) Is the Highest-Earning EDM Song in 14 Countries
Since the genre’s humble beginnings in the 1970s, electronic dance music’s popularity has reached stratospheric heights, with EDM festivals and clubs all over the world now worth $2.5 billion. But which specific tracks are generating their artists the most money from local streamers in every country?
In 14 countries, Roses (Imanbek Remix) by SAINt JHN is the highest-earning EDM song, generating the most money ($369k) in Canada. Released in 2019 (three years after the original), this remix gained worldwide popularity in 2020 after it was featured on a Snapchat filter.
Elsewhere, the Chainsmokers lay claim to the highest-earning EDM song on Spotify. Their 2016 hit Closer made the most money in the U.S. ($2 million), where the song became the group’s (and featured artist Halsey’s) first number-one single, staying at the top of the charts for 12 weeks. Their song Something Just Like This takes the top spot in four other countries.
Elton John and Dua Lipa’s song Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) comes up top in 12 other countries, earning the most in Mexico ($602k). This song was Elton John’s first number-one single in the UK in 16 years and picked up the award for Top Dance/Electronic Song at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards.
Despacito by Luis Fonsi Is the Highest-Earning Latin Song in 17 Countries
Latin music consumption has been on the rise for years, but according to Billboard, Despacito by Luis Fonsi was the hit that kicked off a tidal wave of Latin music in the charts. This 2017 track is the highest-earning Latin song in 17 countries, including the UK, where it’s earned over half a million dollars in Spotify revenue. Not only was this song a global sensation, topping the charts in 47 countries, but its music video is the second most-viewed video of all time on YouTube.
In 19 countries, Pepas is the highest-earning Latin song, banking the artist Farruko the most in Germany ($411k). According to Remezcla, part of the reason behind the global success of this song is that its release in June 2021 made it a “hymn that marked the possible beginning of the end of a prolonged pandemic.”
Meanwhile, in nine countries, J Balvin’s 2019 hit LA CANCIÓN is the highest-earning Latin song, having made the most money in the rapper’s home country of Colombia ($266k). J Balvin is making waves in the music industry far further than Latin America’s borders, choosing to exclusively sing in Spanish so that he can “take Spanish as far as [he] can.”
What Songs Earn the Most Money on Spotify Where You Live?
Our research reveals the highest-earning song in every country, calculated by multiplying Spotify’s pay-per-stream rate by the number of times a song has been played locally. Use our interactive table to explore the data by country and genre.
How Streaming Services Like Spotify Have Changed the Industry
Whether it’s Latin pop or hip-hop, streaming services like Spotify have made it easier than ever to play your favorite tunes on the go. They’ve also made it possible to interact with music, like being able to watch lyrics scroll along to a song or deep-dive into your listening habits. That’s not to say that Spotify hasn’t attracted criticism over the years, with attention especially paid to how much it pays artists. But how has streaming changed the music industry at large?
For one thing, CD sales and digital downloads are falling as the number of paid music streaming subscribers continues to rise. Music piracy is also declining, with factors like the low cost and ease of streaming making platforms like Spotify the preferable option over illegal downloading. Indeed, one report revealed that access to pirated music in the EU dropped by a staggering 81% between 2017 and 2020. Spotify, in particular, has disrupted Apple’s monopoly over the music industry, with Spotify counting twice the share of subscribers as Apple Music.
Methodology & Sources
We wanted to reveal the hit song in each country that has earned its author the most money on Spotify based on its total stream count.
We began our analysis by retrieving each country’s ‘weekly totals’ chart from Kworb. These figures represent the total number of streams for songs that have spent at least one week in the top weekly charts of Spotify. We used the Spotify API to sort artists into their associated genres:
- EDM = any mention of “electronic dance music” or “EDM”
- Hip-hop/rap = any mention of either genre
- Latin = any mention of Latin (e.g., Latin pop, Latin rock) or “reggaeton”
- Rock = any mention of rock
We could then determine the most streamed song for each genre. We then multiplied the number of total streams for each song by Spotify’s payout-per-stream figure, which equals $0.005 per stream (as sourced from Ditto Music).
The data was collected between January 6 and 11, 2023.