The Weeknd's new single "Call Out My Name" was streamed 6 million times in its first 24 hours of release on Apple Music last Friday, March 30. As a comparison, Apple Music's streams of the song nearly doubled Spotify's 3.5 million streams in the same 24-hour period.
As reported by The Verge today, Apple Music's numbers on the new song are impressive given the context of Spotify's advertising push for The Weeknd's new album "My Dear Melancholy." On Friday, Spotify debuted two exclusive videos from the album, one of which was for "Call Out My Name." The Weeknd also tagged Spotify in multiple Instagram posts focusing on the new videos after the album dropped.
Still, Apple Music beat out Spotify for the single's streams on Friday, and in total Apple's service managed over 26 million streams for the full My Dear Melancholy album.
Apple Music has seemingly cracked the streaming formula when it comes to hip-hop and R&B, despite a sizable disadvantage in users compared to Spotify. While Apple Music isn’t the dominant service when it comes to subscribers, it’s quickly becoming the leader when it comes to engagement — at least when it comes to the world’s biggest genre — and that can’t be overlooked.
In March 2017, Drake's "More Life" album streamed 29 million more times on Apple Music than on Spotify in its first 24 hours of launch. Later in the fall, Post Malone dropped his single "Rockstar" and quickly broke Apple Music records with over 25 million streams in one week, grabbing 56 percent of the first week streams of the song in the United States.
At the time, Apple Music head of artist curation Carl Chery said that the company repeatedly wins the streaming game on songs like "Rockstar" because it's "ahead of the curve on them."
“A lot of times on those records where we outperform is because we’re ahead of the curve on them, Chery says.” Chery told me he heard "Rockstar" before it was released and knew immediately that it would be a hit, allowing Apple to move fast and add it to the relevant playlists in the first week. “And to a point, Apple Music becomes the destination where people want to hear that particular record,” Chery said.
In terms of paying subscribers, Apple Music had 38 million worldwide as of March 2018, and Spotify had 71 million as of February 2018. Spotify also has a free, ad-supported tier, giving it over 159 million listeners overall around the world.
The latest addition to Apple Music launched last week in the form of an overhauled music videos section, where subscribers can stream continuous video playlists, watch exclusive videos, and browse a deep back catalog of video content.
Update: Spotify now claims that streams of "Call Out My Name" reached 7.5 million in its first 24 hours of release, while the full "My Dear Melancholy" album was streamed 29 million times, surpassing Apple Music on both counts. The Verge asked The Weeknd's label, Republic Records, for the single's streaming numbers again, but instead of the previous 3.5 million number, the label said it was streamed 6.5 million times on Friday, which is still one million less than Spotify's claims. It remains unclear which number is accurate.