Ethiopian artist Weeknd becomes first global artist to hit 100m monthly listeners on Spotify

Canada-born Ethiopian artist Weeknd has become the first artist in Spotify history to hit 100 million monthly listeners.

The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, was born in Toronto to Ethiopian immigrants.

He has grown to be the biggest chart stars of the last decade, with more than 45 platinum and singles and albums.

Tesfaye uploaded his first songs to YouTube in 2010, focusing on R&B with themes that dissected drug use, casual sex and alienation.

The star now has the most-played song of all time on Spotify. The song, Blinding Lights has been played a staggering 3.4 billion times.

His latest landmark achievement comes a few days after he released a new remix of Die For You with Ariana Grande. The song, which was first released in 2016, has ruled the airwaves after going viral on TikTok.

The song was not a top hit when it was first released, reaching number 74 in the charts. However, its fortunes have dramatically changed, re-entering the Top 40 last week.

His popularity rose tremendously after Canadian rapper Drake posted those early demos to his personal blog; allowing Tesfaye to produce a nine-song mixtape, House of Balloons, which he released as a free download.

“Despite critical acclaim, he seemed an unlikely candidate for mainstream success but by the mid-2010s, Tesfaye had achieved a stunning run of hit singles,” BBC reported

These included a duet with Ariana Grande (Love Me Harder), a Michael Jackson-inspired disco-funk smash (I Can’t Feel My Face), and a futuristic collaboration with Daft Punk (Starboy).

His fourth album After Hours topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, while the lead single Blinding Lights became the longest-running top five single on the US Hot 100.

After Hours was a concept album, themed around a character whose hedonistic night out takes a dark turn – involving alcohol, a fight and ultimately possession by an evil spirit. Tesfaye stayed in character throughout the publicity campaign, with his face masked in bandages.

Last year’s follow-up, Dawn FM, continued the story, with the character travelling through purgatory to the afterlife.

It became the star’s third number one album in the UK, adding to a list of achievements that includes four Grammy Awards, two MTV Awards and an Oscar nomination for Earned It, his contribution to the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.

The star performed at the Super Bowl half-time show in 2021

The Weeknd is the first star to hit 100 million monthly listeners on Spotify, a music platform that has a 50percent market share in the UK and about 30 percent worldwide.

To put Weeknd feat in perspective, The Beatles have garnered 27 million monthly listeners, while pop icons Madonna has 23 million and Michael Jackson 34 million.

Tesfaye’s closest competition is Miley Cyrus, who has 82.5 million listeners, despite her current single, Flowers doing exceptionally well.

If the star’s 100,450,642 listeners had each played just one of his songs, he would have earned $239,072 (£198,176) last month.


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