Drake leapfrogs Justin Bieber as top artist on Spotify

Drake arriving at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Centre in New York.
Drake arriving at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Centre in New York.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Rapper Drake, who has found massive success with his latest album Views, has topped fellow Canadian Justin Bieber as the most-streamed artist on Spotify.

The feat on the world's biggest streaming platform comes even though Drake has a commercial deal with Spotify's rival Apple where he initially released Views as an exclusive.

Drake as of early Wednesday (May 18) had 3.21 billion streams globally, compared with 3.18 billion for Bieber, according to music data aggregator Kworb.

The site compiles figures that appear on Spotify's various charts, meaning that actual numbers are higher as it does not include streams when songs do not enter the top 200.

English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was well behind in third place at 2.15 billion, followed by another Canadian, R&B singer The Weeknd.

Drake's surge over Bieber comes days after Views became available on Spotify after a two-week period in which Apple Music was the only streaming service to carry the full album.

The songs on Views - some of which, notably the hit Hotline Bling, appeared on Spotify in the form of singles - were streamed 245.1 million times in the United States in the week after the album's release on April 29, crushing the previous record set by Bieber's Purpose in November.

Views has since become the first album released in 2016 to sell more than one million copies in the United States, according to tracking service Nielsen Music.

Drake conceived of Views, which runs for an unusually long 90 minutes, as an ode to his hometown Toronto.

He had spoken of the project for two years but in the meantime put out two mix tapes that both topped the US album chart.

Streaming, which allows unlimited, on-demand listening, has been growing at a breakneck pace, leading digital music to outpace physical sales last year for the first time globally.