Here are BBC Radio 1’s most-played artists this year. Are there enough UK acts?

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A few months back, MBW posted an article called ‘Is Radio 1 Doing Enough To Support New British Artists’?

The analysis delved into the most-played tracks on the station in the first half of 2016, showing that its Top 4 songs in the six months were all by non-British artists.

The feature – based on rock solid data from the trusted folks at Radiomonitor – got a lot of people talking, and we received a fair amount of feedback.

One exec in the know asked whether, instead of showing just the most popular tracks on Radio 1, we could also reveal the most popular artists on the station.

Good question. It’s taken a bit of an effort and a big calculator, but we’re finally there.

Warning: the UK music industry might not be completely delighted with what we’ve found.


First, though, here’s how we did it.

Thanks to the excellent database over at RadioMonitor, we’ve been able to ascertain Radio 1’s Top 1,000 most-played tracks since the first ‘radio week’ of 2016 up until the latest.

To be exact, that’s the 278 days between Sunday, January 3 and Thursday, October 6.

To be less exact, it’s the first three quarters of 2016.

From this Top 1,000 list, we’ve then boiled down how many total plays each artist achieved within it.

The big conclusion: Radio 1 really, really, really likes Drake.

The Canadian rapper was played 883 times on Radio 1 in the period as a lead artist – not counting the additional 226 plays received by his turn as a featured artist on Rihanna’s Work.

The only other artist to receive more than 600 plays in Q1-Q3 was Coldplay, who clocked up 697 plays in total – including 208 plays with single Hymn For The Weekend.

The complete Top 15 looks as follows:

  1. Drake: 883 plays
  2. Coldplay: 697 plays
  3. The 1975: 587 plays
  4. Shawn Mendes: 575 plays
  5. Sigala: 535 plays
  6. Major Lazer: 531 plays
  7. Catfish & The Bottlemen: 528 plays
  8. Calvin Harris: 515 plays
  9. Biffy Clyro: 512 plays
  10. DNCE: 502 plays
  11. Justin Bieber: 498 plays
  12. Kanye West: 490 plays
  13. Ellie Goulding: 460 plays
  14. The Weeknd: 458 plays
  15. The Chainsmokers: 443 plays

The support from Radio 1 for The 1975, Sigala and Catfish & The Bottlemen will certainly please those who believe the station should be closely following its ‘in new music we trust’ mantra.

In addition, the fact that six of the Top 10 are British artists will not go amiss.

What may not go down so well in UK A&R circles is the heavy rotation of North American superstars – with Drake, Shawn Mendes (pictured), Major Lazer, DNCE, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, The Weeknd and The Chainsmokers sharing 4,380 spins between them.

In fact, non-UK artists make up the majority of the Top 15, with eight slots.

(You can see the full list of Radio 1’s most-played artists this year at the end of this article.)


In addition, according to RadioMonitor, BBC Radio 1’s most-played tracks in the first nine months of 2016 lent very heavily on non-UK repertoire.

Ready for the stat of the day?

The entire Top 6 of the network’s most-played songs this year so far are not from the UK, and not one track in the station’s Top 20 list can really be defined as a breaking British performer. (Although you could perhaps make the argument for platinum-selling Sony signing Snakehips.)

Food for thought.

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BBC RADIO 1’s Most popular artists of 2016 so far

  • 21 Pilots: 651 plays
  • 5 Seconds Of Summer: 194 plays
  • 99 Souls: 227 plays
  • Adele: 500 plays
  • Alessia Cara: 373 plays
  • All Time Low: 187 plays
  • AlunaGeorge: 379 plays
  • Alan Walker: 270 plays
  • Anne Marie: 287 plays
  • Arctic Monkeys: 110 plays
  • Ariana Grande: 433 plays
  • Avicii: 167 plays
  • Bastille: 451 plays
  • Biffy Clyro: 512 plays
  • Birdy: 227 plays
  • Blonde: 275 plays
  • Blossoms: 367 plays
  • Bob Marley (remixes): 144 plays
  • Bring Me The Horizon: 428 plays
  • Calvin Harris: 515 plays
  • Catfish & The Bottlemen: 528 plays
  • Chainsmokers: 443 plays
  • Charlie Puth: 159 plays
  • Chase & Status: 302 plays
  • Christine & The Queens: 294 plays
  • Chvrches: 188 plays
  • Clean Bandit: 248 plays
  • Coldplay: 697 plays
  • Craig David: 442 plays
  • DJ Snake: 399 plays
  • David Guetta: 315 plays
  • DNCE: 502 plays
  • Drake: 883 plays
  • Dua Lipa: 386 plays
  • Elle King: 235 plays
  • Ellie Goulding: 460 plays
  • Fetty Wap: 290 plays
  • Fifth Harmony: 369 plays
  • Flume: 273 plays
  • Florence & The Machine: 108 plays
  • Galantis: 328 plays
  • Glass Animals: 216 plays
  • Gorgon City: 172 plays
  • High Contrast: 211
  • Iggy Azaelea: 236 plays
  • Izzy Bizu: 113 plays
  • Jack Garratt: 427 plays
  • Jake Bugg: 289 plays
  • James Bay: 290 plays
  • Jason Derulo: 281 plays
  • Jess Glynne: 270 plays
  • Jonas Blue: 401 plays
  • Justin Bieber: 498 plays
  • Justin Timberlake: 375 plays
  • Kano: 248 plays
  • Kanye West: 490 plays
  • Kent Jones: 176 plays
  • Kungs: 339 plays
  • Kygo: 314 plays
  • Last Shadow Puppets: 295 plays
  • Little Mix: 386 plays
  • Lukas Graham: 361 plays
  • Major Lazer: 531 plays
  • Meghan Trainor: 322 plays
  • Mike Posner: 266 plays
  • Mumford & Sons: 360 plays
  • Mura Masa: 283 plays
  • Nick Jonas: 292 plays
  • Offaiah: 226 plays
  • Olly Murs: 232 plays
  • One Direction: 251 plays
  • One Republic: 312 plays
  • Philip George: 159 plays
  • Protoje: 291 plays
  • Raleigh Ritchie: 122 plays
  • Rihanna: 430 plays
  • Riton: 238 plays
  • Robin Schultz: 145 plays
  • Rudimental: 211 plays
  • Selena Gomez: 298 plays
  • Shawn Mendes: 575 plays
  • Sia: 434 plays
  • Sigala: 535 plays
  • Sigma: 407 plays
  • Skepta: 344 plays
  • Snakehips: 412 plays
  • Tame Impala: 212 plays
  • Taylor Swift: 238 plays
  • The 1975: 587 plays
  • Tinie Tempah: 441 plays
  • Tom Odell: 261 plays
  • Twin Atlantic: 233 plays
  • Two Door Cinema Club: 170 plays
  • Usher: 227 plays
  • The Vamps: 175 plays
  • The Weeknd: 458 plays
  • Wolf Alice: 277 plays
  • Wretch 32: 169 plays
  • WSTRN: 286 plays
  • X-Ambassadors: 228 plays
  • Years & Years: 385 plays
  • Zara Larsson: 378 plays
  • Zayn: 342 plays

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  • seth keller

    Really informative article for someone like me from the US. How do the BBC 1 spins for each artist compare with the Capital FM spins for the same artists? I’m curious to know if the number of weekly spins for the top artists are similar to BBC 1, which spun Drake records about 22 times per week in 40 weeks according to your data.

    In the US, Top 40 stations spin the top songs over 100 times per week. For example, KIIS FM in LA’s top song for the week ending Oct 8 was Chainsmokers’ “Closer”, which they spun 117 times in 7 days.

    To me it shows there’s a lot more diversity in UK pop radio, which seems to have much broader and deeper playlists.