Spotify's Flagship Playlist: Today's Top Hits

A profile of Spotify's #1 most-followed playlist

Spotify's Flagship Playlist: Today's Top Hits

As of: Nov 11, 2017 | Spotify rank: #1 | Chartmetric’s daily podcast is here!

by Jason Joven and Sung Cho


Today’s Top Hits is the #1 playlist in the Spotify ecosystem, with 18.2 million followers (approximately 7.5 million more than the #2 playlist, Spotify’s Global Top 50), and has around 2.5 million daily active listeners. Chartmetric has been tracking this playlist since May 2016, and we would like to share some interesting data with you!

This is the premiere pop and hip-hop playlist in which only the biggest stars and viral emerging artists play. The list count as of Nov 2017 stays at 50 tracks at any given moment.

Impressively, this playlist’s growth from Nov 2016 to Nov 2017 approximately doubled in size from 11.6 million to its current 18.2 million followers. Over the same period, its average daily change has remained steadily positive at 30,000-35,000 followers per day. It will be interesting to see the sustainability of such success over the next 12 months.

Today’s Top Hits: follow growth over time

Track Analysis

By looking at current and historical data, we can see that most of the track rotation happens on Fridays, which falls in line with IFPI’s “Global Release Day” established in July 2015. We colloquially know this as New Music Fridays.

Today’s Top Hits: The number of tracks added for each day of the week

Despite all the playlist’s star power, a surprising majority of tracks do not release instantly into it, which makes sense given the limited number of spots. While some of the tracks were added on their release date (48 tracks), most were done within 50 days (185 tracks).

However at the extreme end, Today’s Top Hits is no stranger to reviving an artist’s older catalog, sometimes even more than a year after a track’s release. These tracks include:

Tracks that we added to Today’s Top Hits much later after they were released

Once on the playlist, Chartmetric data reveals how long these tracks survive: most (220) stayed for 50~100 days, while only a handful stayed for more than 200. This is a surprisingly long lifetime (2–3 months) considering the quick-moving pop scene!

Just as interesting is what we do not see: rock. In the Chartmetric tags of the Today’s Top Hits tracks, 58% of the playlist is “pop” and 41% is “hip-hop”. Moving forward, we will be looking for the emergence of distorted guitars, gritty vocals, and human-played drums - is rock really dead in the 2010s, or does it just not perform well on Spotify? It can be easy to forget that certain audiences sometimes favor certain digital music services, so this is good to keep in mind.

Tracks by genres

In Removed Tracks, you can download artists that have been especially successful in placement and glean some insights for yourself. For example, we found that since May 2016, only 4 artists have had at least 5 distinct tracks: Drake, Maroon 5, The Chainsmokers, and Zara Larsson, which is a testament to their prolific output.

Today’s Top Hits: Removed Tracks since May 2016

On the qualitative side, Spotify’s Echo Nest analytics are available in the Acoustic Characteristics section, where their measurements of “feeling” across the playlist reveals certain trends. Some are expected, such as the majority of tracks exhibiting higher energy, danceability, and polished studio production (low “acousticness” or “liveness”). The mid-tempo beats per minute (BPM) range of 110-120 is also likely in a place where the speed of the song is fast enough to dance to, but slow enough to understand lyrics and sing along with.

Today’s Top Hits: Acoustic Characteristics

However, what may be unexpected is the Valence measurement. It shows more than half the tracks feel “negative”, or “sad, depressed, angry” as defined by the Echo Nest. Musically, this could translate to minor, sad sounding chords, for example. The reasons for this likely go beyond the scope of this article, but it suggests a certain emotion present in the popular music scene, flipping the assumption of stereotypical “happy” pop music on top of its head.

Label Analysis

Label distribution leans towards the Big Three: Universal Music Group (42%), with Sony Music Entertainment (21%) and Warner Music Group (15%) the next largest players.

Data updated as of Nov 29th, 2017

However from a larger perspective, the time it takes for each label’s track to list tells a more balanced story. With the median time of 21.25 days (average time skews this statistic) it takes from a track’s release date to make the playlist, we have found out some labels (Big Machine, Kygo, Bendo) have quicker times to posting, suggesting not only big labels but independents also have healthy relationships with the curation team.

Unsurprisingly, Taylor Swift’s Big Machine Records and Sony’s Disruptor Records (The Chainsmokers) have nearly instant releases into Today’s Top Hits. At the other end of the spectrum, the effectiveness of music licensing is evident in PIAS Recordings’ “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron. Taking 809 days, Netflix’s sync of the track in their 13 Reasons Why drama series revived it in April 2017.

Spotify’s Today’s Top Hits remains the most influential streaming playlist in today’s digital music scene. We have attempted to use Chartmetric’s tools and data (available for you to manipulate yourself!) to provide deeper insights beyond the charts…what do you think? Give us a shout on all socials @chartmetric !


Disclaimer: While best efforts are taken to provide truthful analysis and insight, there may be discrepancies embedded within the data received by Chartmetric.