2018 – what a year in music! So much has happened over the past 12 months, including with FanLabel, as we continued to update the platform and change game-play to better serve our users. Enough about us, though, let’s talk about the year that was music in 2018.

Streaming music continues to dominate

According to the Motley Fool, Apple Music eclipsed 50 million global subscribers this spring, and per Digital Music news, Apple also surpassed Spotify as the No. 1 streaming service in America in terms of paying subscribers. Spotify and Apple Music both have more than 20 million paying subscribers in the U.S. alone, though Apple has the slight edge. Apple Music is expected to widen its lead in America over Spotify as we enter 2019. However, Spotify continues to be stronger throughout the world, as Statista reports that as of June 2018, Spotify had 83 million paying subscribers worldwide, which was up from 57 million in 2017. Spotify projects to have 206 million total monthly active users by year’s end.

Meanwhile, Amazon Prime memberships surpassed 100 million worldwide users, and while it may not be the case that everybody who uses Amazon Prime uses Amazon Prime Music, the members have access to the streaming service for free. Amazon also offers Music Unlimited. Pandora Media is selling itself to Sirius XM Radio, but still had nearly 7 million paying subscribers this year, which was up from 5.5 million in 2017. The streaming business only seems to be gaining steam as we head into the new year.

Drake, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande continue to find success on the charts, while Cardi B and Camila Cabello emerge

Drake was named Billboard’s Artist of the Year in 2018, and for good reason. The Toronto rapper dropped his highly-anticipated “Scorpion” album, which included too many hits to count, but namely “In My Feelings” (and its viral dance challenge) and “God’s Plan,” with the latter being Billboard’s No. 1 hit of the year on the 2018 year-end Hot 100 charts.

Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” album was crowned as “Album of the Year” by Billboard. She is also the top female chart performer of the year, as well as No. 4 artist overall. Swift’s crossover into pop music continues to pay dividends for the superstar.

Ariana Grande released her album, “Sweetener,” in 2018, including hits such as “God is a Woman,” “No Tears Left To Cry,” and “Breathin.” She later broke the internet with her smash single, “thank u, next,” and most recently, a new single called “Imagine,” which according to BuzzAngle had more than 4 million streams on the day it was released. She was named Woman of the Year by Billboard.

Cardi B emerged on the scene in 2017 with her hit “Bodak Yellow,” and continued to gain popularity in 2018 thanks to her debut album “Invasion of Privacy.” She ranks as Billboard’s No. 2 most-charted female, and No. 5 overall. Meanwhile, Camila Cabello continues to find success as a solo artist, as she ranks the No. 3 female artist and No. 10 overall in 2018. She released her debut album, “Camila” in January. Janelle Monae also broke out with her album “Dirty Computers” in 2018. She is a name to watch in 2019.

Rap/Hip-Hop is King

The music genre is dominating streaming numbers, as well as Billboard Charts. As of press time, nine of the top 20 songs, and four of the top 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart are of the hip-hop/rap variety. Meanwhile, seven of the top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart are of that genre.

Using streaming data from leading music consumption reporting service, BuzzAngle, we can also report that the top seven most streamed songs, and eight of the top 10, of 2018 thus far are all related to hip-hop music:

  • Drake’s “God’s Plan” and “In My Feelings” at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively
  • Juice WRLD’s “Lucid Dreams,” which falls into both the hip-hop and pop genres at No. 3
  • Post Malone’s and Ty Dolla $ign’s “Psycho,” which also falls into both genres, at No. 4
  • Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” at No. 5
  • 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj’s “FEFE” at No. 6
  • BlocBoy JB & Drake’s “Look Alive” at No. 7
  • Cardi B’s (with Bad Bunny and J Balvin) “I Like It” (another hip-hop/pop song) at No. 10

Earlier this month, we wrote about the top-five most streamed albums from November 2018, and reported that four of the five albums were in the rap/hip-hop genre. Rap music has become much more diverse, and has crossed over into various genres. Because it has so many styles that speak to various groups of people, it is clearly the most popular genre out there.

Soundtracks Make a Comeback

This year was an extraordinary one for music and movie magic. We will all exit 2018 with a nugget of knowledge we did not know going into it: Bradley Cooper can sing, and we are all better for it.

“A Star is Born,” Cooper’s directorial debut, broke records, thanks to his own talent and that of his co-star, Lady Gaga. The film’s soundtrack debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, earning Gaga her fifth No. 1 album (she’s the top female artist to achieve so many No. 1 albums this decade).

Another music-to-movie adaptation this year, “Bohemian Rhapsody” quickly became the highest-earning music biopic of all time, pulling in more than $600 million globally. And according to Universal Music Group (UMG), “Bohemian Rhapsody” is now the most-streamed classic rock song of the 20th century.

Other soundtracks that were big hits in 2018 include “Black Panther: The Album,” “The Greatest Showman,” both the original motion picture soundtrack and the re-imagined version that dropped this fall, and the “13 Reasons Why” Season 2 soundtrack from the Netflix drama series.

Girls Rock

According to a Fender study, half of new guitar players are now women. Artists such as Mitski, Alvvays, Soccer Mommy, Courtney Barnett, and Snail Mail established themselves in the alternative scene in 2018 with both vocals and instrumentals.

Other interesting notes from around the internet:

While we can’t cover everything that happened in 2018 in one single blog post, we hope you enjoyed our look back at the year that was in music. It will be interesting to see what 2019 brings us.

Be sure to check the FanLabel blog homepage for more on what we covered in music this year.