November 17, 2021

How streaming made hit songs more important than the pop stars who sing them

In 2018, Trevor Daniel released the song “Falling” to little fanfare. Its tame take on emo-rap couldn’t hold a candle to the darker more confessional acts like Lil Uzi Vert and Juice WRLD, who pioneered the sound.

But two years later, “Falling” blew up, thanks to the internet. First, it was picked up by influencers on Instagram, then it became a TikTok meme featured in more than 3 million videos. The social media hype led to traditional media success: The song spent 38 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100, peaking at 17. It was streamed more than a billion times on Spotify, where it’s featured on prominent playlists like “Chill Hits,” “Beast Mode,” and “Top Gaming Hits.”

Then Daniel attempted a star-studded follow-up, ”Past Life,” featuring Selena Gomez and produced by Finneas. The song peaked at No. 77 on Billboard, left the charts…

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