The Beatles may have been "more popular than Jesus," at least in John Lennon's eyes, but the songwriter failed to foresee the rise of another widely worshipped deity: Justin Bieber.
The Beatles had a very strong showing in their first few days on the major streaming services. In only four days, the song "Come Together" managed to amass 2.8 million streams on Spotify, while "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude" also broke the 2 million stream barrier. As of today, "Come Together" had cracked the U.S. Top 50 chart on Spotify, showing up at #50 just beneath familiar names like Drake, The Weeknd, and One Direction.
Not bad for songs that were recorded 45 years ago. But the Fab Four have a long way to go in order to catch up with the likes of Adele, Drake, and Justin Bieber. By comparison, Bieber's hit single "Sorry" has been streamed over 291 million times on Spotify, while "What Do You Mean?" is up to 385 million streams.
The comparison isn't entirely fair, since these Bieber tracks have been available for a few months. But how did The Beatles do on their first day, compared to the first day that the new Biebs songs landed on Spotify? By that measure, Bieber still comes out way ahead. On its first day streaming, "Come Together" (the most popular Beatles track so far) was listened to 304,770 times in the U.S. By comparison, Bieber's "Sorry" broke 1 million U.S. listens on its first day of availability on the streaming service. So did Bieber's "What Do You Mean?" when it was released in late August.
Of course, a new Bieber single is a different sort of phenomenon than the arrival of the entire back catalog of a hugely popular band. But these early numbers give us a hint at how well The Beatles are doing on the streaming services, compared to their modern pop music counterparts. That's important, because these companies are presumably paying an exorbitant sum of money in licensing costs to make The Beatles catalog available. Getting to this point was probably no easy feat—the band is notorious for holding out on new music formats and technologies—but now that they're streaming, The Beatles help to further legitimize music's new distribution model at a time when there's some controversy over the economics.
Spotify, in particular, has been doing a huge marketing push behind the Beatles' streaming launch. In addition to several promoted tweets and other prominent advertisements, the Spotify app is displaying a rarely used interstitial ad encouraging users to check out the band.
And now about those track-by-track trends: "Come Together" may seem like an odd Beatles song to come in first place on Spotify. The 1969 track was originally included as the B-side to George Harrison's "Something" and the two songs share the #22 slot of the highest-selling Beatles singles of all time. Yet songs like "She Loves You," "Can't Buy Me Love," "I Feel Fine," and "Hey Jude" are historically far more popular. So why "Come Together?" One likely explanation: Spotify curated—and prominently featured—a playlist titled "Come Together" as part of its Beatles launch. That playlist, which is displayed first in a list of 11 Beatles-related playlists on the Spotify-curated Beatles landing page, boasts over 180,000 followers. The first track is, naturally, "Come Together."
Spotify is only one of nine streaming services who got The Beatles' catalog on December 24, but it is the one with the most users. Apple Music, which reportedly has 10 million users, did not make any data available on the Beatles launch (and tends not to be quite as open with its streaming data as Spotify is).
In the first two days of availability on Spotify, Beatles songs were added to over 673,000 playlists, according to data released by the company.
Here are the most-streamed Beatles songs on Spotify from the band's first two days on Spotify:
- Come Together
- Let It Be
- Hey Jude
- Love Me Do
- Here Comes The Sun
- All You Need Is Love
- I Want To Hold Your Hand
- Twist And Shout