YouTube’s biggest music video debut of 2017 is… not a music video

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Guess who’s responsible for the biggest YouTube music video debut of 2017 so far.

Ed Sheeran? Nope.

Bruno Mars? Nope.

The winner is, in fact, a remix of ‘Despacito’ by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi – featuring Justin Bieber (singing in Spanish) and rapper Daddy Yankee.

But here’s the thing: this ‘video’ isn’t a video at all – it’s an audio track, played over a static screen showing the record’s sleeve.

Released (via Louis Fonsi’s Vevo page) by Universal Music Latin and licensed to Republic Records, the remix was published on YouTube on Sunday (April 16th) and has already received over 38m views.

It generated 20m YouTube plays within its first 24 hours — beating the one-day 2017 debuts of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ and K-Pop band BTS with ‘Not Today’.


This is an interesting time for YouTube – who announced the stats earlier – to be shouting about the popularity of audio-only material on its service.

The global music industry has recently been busy reigniting lobbying efforts regarding the royalty rates paid to labels and artists by the Google/Alphabet platform.

RIAA boss Cary Sherman recently accompanied positive US recorded market figures with research suggesting that 1,000 streams on Apple Music will, on average, result in a $13 payout to rightsholders.

“Comparisons to other audio-only, subscription music services are apples to oranges.”

youtube spokesperson

That’s 1,200% higher than YouTube’s equivalent distribution.

Spotify, said Sherman’s cited research, pays out approximately $7 per 1,000 streams.

Google has, in the past, sharply dismissed this juxtaposition as downright illogical.

As the company told us a year ago: “Comparisons to other audio-only, subscription music services are apples to oranges.”


Apples to oranges?

At what point, when your biggest ‘video’ debut of the year is actually an audio track, does this difference become negligible?

Here’s an interesting stat: the Bieber remix of ‘Despacito’ has over 10.3m streams on Spotify to date.

According to Cary Sherman’s calculations, that amounts to an approximate payout of $72,100 for Fonsi, Universal Music and their fellow rights-holders.

If YouTube pays $1 per 1,000 streams (as Sherman’s research also suggests), then the remix of ‘Despacito’ on YouTube has earned $38,000 for over three times the amount of listens it’s had on Spotify.

On this basis, despite the difference in consumption, Spotify will have paid out around 90% more than YouTube for the same content.

Music Business Worldwide

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