Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio was bagging groceries at a supermarket and attending college when he uploaded a song to SoundCloud in 2016 under the pseudonym Bad Bunny. The track, “Diles,” a Puerto Rican spin on the trap sound of Atlanta, racked up more than 1 million listens and grabbed the attention of a couple well-known producers. #BadBunny
Just two years later, he appeared on the unofficial song of summer, Cardi B’s “I Like it,” and two years after that, he was performing alongside Shakira and Jennifer Lopez at the Super Bowl.
The rapid rise of Bad Bunny underscores the tantalizing nature of music celebrity in the digital age. Social media and streaming services have made it easier than ever to release music, but the volume of new songs, TikTok loops and Instagram stories has also made it harder to break through. These new apps have also made it harder to measure success. Who’s really a bigger deal: the young hip-hop act with 10 million Instagram followers, or the old rocker selling out a club show?
That’s why Bloomberg came up with the Pop Star Power Rankings, a new chart that measures the rise and fall of the world’s most in-demand musicians. Every month, we’ll publish a list of the 25 biggest pop stars in the world, as determined by six criteria: ticket sales, concert grosses, album sales, Spotify streams, Instagram interactions and YouTube views. (While the coronavirus has halted touring for the foreseeable future, the first edition includes touring that happened earlier this year.)
In the month of March, Bad Bunny ranks No. 1. He was the most popular artist globally on Spotify, which is the world’s largest paid music service, and YouTube, its biggest free one. He was also the third-most-popular musician on Instagram, according to CrowdTangle.
Bad Bunny’s popularity speaks to the growing power of Latin music. In November 2018, Spotify named Mexico City the new music capital of the world because it has more users there than any other city.
Bad Bunny’s reach stretches across all of the Spanish-speaking world. He was the most popular artist in more than a dozen countries on YouTube last month, including Argentina, Guatemala and Spain.
His appeal stretches beyond Latin America. He had 8 different songs in the top 50 on Spotify’s U.S. charts the week ending March 5, thanks to the release of his new album, “YHLQMDLG.” That record was the No. 4 best-seller in the U.S. this past month, further proof Bad Bunny has fully crossed over into the world’s largest music market.
He’s not alone. Colombian reggaeton star J Balvin is also in the top 25, while his countrymate Karol G sits right outside it. This list is almost entirely global, which is why you’ll also see BTS, the South Korean boy band, at No. 18 and Andrea Bocelli, the Italian opera singer, at No. 24.
Keep in mind that this list won’t include every big artist in the world. Some performers don’t have new music out, or aren’t touring. Rihanna and Beyoncé will be here soon. But we hope this can be a guide to the cultural clout—and earnings potential—of the world’s biggest pop stars.
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