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Norwegian DJ Kygo breaks Spotify record

Electronic artist Kygo has become the fastest artist to hit one billion streams on Spotify, capping a phenomenal year for him, the music site said Thursday.

Norwegian DJ Kygo breaks Spotify record
Norwegian DJ Kygo. Photo: Kygomusic
The Norwegian DJ, a key figure in the tropical house genre that has won a growing following, reached the billion-mark in a little more than a year.
 
Kygo's first major solo release came in December 2014 — “Firestone,” a mellow dance track that gradually builds to the vocals of Australian singer Conrad Sewell.
   
He later followed up the success with the track “Stole the Show.”
 
While hailing Kygo on his own merits, Spotify cited his success as an example of the possibilities of streaming, which offers unlimited, on-demand music online.
   
Spotify, the leading streaming site, has faced accusations from a number of artists that it pays back too little for musicians to earn a living.
   
The Swedish company said that it quickly identified Kygo and cooperated closely with his label, Sony's electronic-oriented Ultra Music.
   
Spotify said it first worked to promote “Firestone” in Europe before launching a global push to acquaint its users with Kygo.
   
“We knew when we signed him that he had a fanatical following, and we were really able to harness that with the support of Spotify as a global partner on the project,” Toby Andrews, head of electronic music marketing for Sony Music International, said in a statement.
   
The 24-year-old DJ is set to release a debut album in 2016.
   
Spotify said that other recent stars — such as British soul singer Sam Smith, the big winner at the last Grammy Awards — usually needed two years to reach the billion-stream mark.
 
 But Spotify and its competitors — such as Apple Music, Deezer, Google Play Music and Tidal — have seen rapid growth in the past few years.
   
For the year as a whole, Canadian rapper Drake was the most streamed artist on Spotify, despite his close relationship with Apple Music.
 
“Lean On,” the downtempo dance track by Major Lazer featuring DJ Snake and Danish singer Mo, was the most heard single song, with more than 578 million streams as of Thursday.

YOUTUBE

‘Take On Me’ tops a billion YouTube views: What makes 80s Norwegian hit so enduring?

It’s arguably the biggest success in the history of Norwegian pop, and A-ha’s 1984 pop classic ‘Take On Me’ this week reached a new milestone.

'Take On Me' tops a billion YouTube views: What makes 80s Norwegian hit so enduring?
A-Ha performing in 2015. Photo: AFP

The song combines synthpop with acoustic guitars, keyboards and drums and is indisputably the band’s signature tune and one of the most evocative pop songs of the decade.

That is complemented by a memorable music video which combined live action sequences with black-and-white pencil sketch animated overlays, in what was then an innovative technique called rotoscoping. It won six awards at the 1986 MTV Music Video Awards.

Perhaps the combination of both music and visuals has driven Take On Me into the realms of YouTube royalty. The official video, originally released in 1985, was recently restored and upgraded to 4K resolution to improve visual quality, Warner Music Norway wrote in a press statement.

In any case, A-ha now join a small list of artists with music videos that have tipped the 10-figure mark for total views on the social media website.

While South Korean rapper Psy’s 2012 hit Gangnam Style and Despacito by Luis Fonsi (2017) have famously garnered monstrous numbers of YouTube views, it’s arguably harder for songs which pre-date widespread use of the Internet to rack up those kind of figures.

Take On Me joins two Guns N’ Roses songs (November Rain, Sweet Child o’ Mine), Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit in an elite club of just five songs from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s with over a billion views.

Numb by Linkin Park was the first pre-YouTube video from the 2000s to reach a billion views.

“Obviously the video is unique and it has some features that stand up and stand the test of time,” he shared. “It’s hand drawn which makes it what it is,” A-ha guitarist Magne Furuholmen told Billboard last year.

“The song also seems to resonate with people across time. It’s just very fortunate to have such a big song in our catalogue,” Furuholmen said.

“We probably spent a few years talking it down, trying to get people to focus on new stuff we’re doing. At this point, certainly speaking for myself, I’m just surprised and proud that the song has done so well and still finds an audience,” he added.

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