Bowie breaks YouTube record posthumously, Spotify streams skyrocket by 2,800 percent

David Bowie has posthumously broken Adele’s high water mark in the world of digital video, as the recently-deceased rock icon’s catalog amassed 51 million views in just 24 hours after the news of his death on January 10.

Adele’s previous record was set following the release of the music video for her hit song Hello, which helped her library of songs get 36 million views in the day following its release last October.

Bowie’s viewership record is a bitter pill to swallow for his fans around the world, whose shock and sadness, mixed with nostalgia for his many hit records and songs, were the fire that fueled the massive number of views it took to break the record. The songwriter’s catalog has also seen massive listener increases on streaming services since he passed, with a 2,800 percent play count increase on Spotify, and presumably similar bumps on other music services such as Apple Music and Rdio, as well as increased physical album sales.

But it was also a surge created by the musician’s recent release of material in the album Blackstar, which seemed to take on new meaning following the tragedy as a final good bye of sorts to the fans who cherished his music for decades. Bowie succumbed to an 18-month battle with cancer, an illness which he decided to keep private, telling only very close friends and family.

The songwriter released what would be his final album just two days before his death, and the lead single, Lazarus, received the biggest viewership numbers during the 24-hour period following his passing, with 11.1 million plays.

Always a forward-thinker in the world of music, Bowie’s last album was partly inspired by rapper Kendrick Lamar’s hit record To Pimp A Butterfly, which came out in March of last year. Like Lamar’s album, Blackstar features numerous jazz interludes and beat breaks, and features rising stars and established artists from the world of jazz.

Longtime Bowie producer and collaborator Tony Visconte has since described Bowie’s last album as a gift to his fans, saying, “His death was no different from his life — a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.”


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