'Anything's possible': How Bohemian Rhapsody turned Queen into a Q4 streaming sensation


Who was the biggest singles artist in Q4? Ariana Grande? Post Malone? Drake?

Well, they all saw huge success, but no one had more songs in the quarter’s Top 200 as a lead artist than… Queen.

Queen’s original incarnation may have ended in 1991 with the tragic death of frontman Freddie Mercury. And loud guitars may barely feature anywhere else amongst the biggest streaming hits of today. But, fuelled by the huge success of biopic Bohemian Rhapsody – the film has taken almost $800 milllion (£617m) at the international box office to date and has been nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor – Queen scored no fewer than six of Q4’s biggest singles.

That list in full: Bohemian Rhapsody (No.53, 173,776 sales, according to the Official Charts Company); Don’t Stop Me Now (No.108, 107,506); Another One Bites The Dust (No.142, 89,776); Somebody To Love (No.168, 80,382); Under Pressure (with David Bowie, No.187, 72,368); and Killer Queen (No.194, 70,650).

In addition, the band had four of the quarter’s Top 200 albums: the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack (No.7, 210,306); The Platinum Collection (No.14, 140,779); Greatest Hits (No.44, 47,291); and A Night At The Opera (No.105, 20,326).

Unusually for a rock band, let alone a classic rock band, it was streaming that fuelled the performance, suggesting the biopic is helping the band’s label, Universal’s Virgin EMI, led by label president Ted Cockle, connect the music with a new, younger audience.


No one had more songs in Q4's Top 200 as a lead artist than Queen


In December, Bohemian Rhapsody became the most-streamed song from the 20th Century, with over 1.6 billion streams across all major platforms. And the band now has almost 35 million monthly listeners on Spotify – right now that's even more than Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Cardi B or any manner of smash hit contemporary artists.

“It was a fantastic Q4 for Queen across the board,” David Hawkes, MD of Universal Music UK’s commercial division, told Music Week. “What’s really encouraging for us on Queen is the statistic from Spotify that over 70% of the streams on Queen since Bohemian Rhapsody was released are from the under-35s age category. The film has succeeded in taking a fantastic heritage act to a much younger audience – which bodes well for the Elton John film which will come this year.”

While a large percentage of streaming listening comes from catalogue material, it’s rare for so many songs from a single heritage artist to rub shoulders with today’s top hits in the chart’s top tier. Universal is likely to target a similar boost for John’s catalogue of hits when his biopic, Rocketman, comes out in the UK in May.

“If you can bring an audience in and you’ve got an artist with great songs, anything’s possible,” said Hawkes.

Watch this space…

* To read Music Week’s feature on 2018’s soundtrack domination, click here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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