Streaming has become the most popular form of music consumption in the United States, accounting for three-quarters of industry revenue in the first half of 2018. About 1 million new subscribers sign up for streaming services every month, signaling that the format is not just the way of the future, it’s the way of today.
Yet not all songs receive the same amount of attention on streaming platforms, even when songs have become popular enough to climb the charts. Some hit songs barely get more than 1 million plays on Spotify – the world’s leading streaming service – throughout the entire year. In comparison, many other hit songs were streamed more than 100 million times in 2018.
24/7 Wall St. has identified the least streamed hit songs of 2018. These are the songs that at some point this year charted on the Billboard Hot 100 – which considers streaming, sales, and radio play – yet aggregated the fewest plays on Spotify in the U.S.
While the year’s most streamed songs are primarily from the R&B/hip hop genre, the least streamed are more musically diverse, including multiple country music performers such as Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, and Chris Stapleton. There are numerous reasons for this. For one, not only is R&B/hip hop the most popular music genre in the U.S., but fans of the genre are also more likely to listen to music via streaming. While 79% of R&B/hip hop is consumed music via streaming, only 55% of country fans did, according to Nielsen Music.
The least streamed hit songs also include a couple of older songs that returned to Billboard’s Hot 100 in 2018 years after their initial release. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” racked up 2.7 million streams in the week ending Nov. 11 because of Halloween. It also re-entered the Hot 100, peaking at No. 31, around this period. Similarly, Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)” reached No. 37 thanks to a surge in popularity around the holidays last year, which carried into 2018.
To determine the most streamed songs of 2018, 24/7 Wall St. identified the songs that were most streamed on Spotify within the United States in 2018. This was done by combining all of the weekly streams of a song when it was ranked among Spotify’s Top 200 most played weekly tracks. Any plays that occurred when a song was not ranked among the service’s top 200 tracks were not included. All songs had to appear on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart at least once in 2018 to be considered. In cases where a song re-entered the Hot 100 after a prolonged absence, such as with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” we listed its peak position during the most recent inclusion.