Lil Uzi Vert has one of the hottest songs of the year in “XO Tour Llif3” and the catchy tune has been streamed an amazing 1.3 billion times and counting. While the Philadelphia rap star earned millions for his label, Vert only saw $900,000 despite the track’s epic success.
Vulture published an extremely informative piece this week titled “How A Hit Happens,” zeroing in on the behind the scenes working of how hit songs are made, and ultimately delivered to the public.
Center of the story is Spotify’s Rap Caviar curator Tuma Basa, and the wildly popular playlist has proven that Basa’s ear for seeing hits as they emerge is unmatched. Also crucial to Vulture‘s piece is the rise of Lil Uzi Vert, and how wildly uneven the potential to earn remains for musicians in a constantly evolving climate.
The dozen sales and streaming executives gathered in Atlantic’s midtown headquarters, or conferenced in from L.A., have in front of them spreadsheets, sorted alphabetically, filled with streaming data on Atlantic’s urban artists. Most of today’s conversation centers around Atlantic’s two big summer breakouts, Cardi B and Lil Uzi Vert. Apple’s Carl Chery jumped on Cardi early, giving her prime exposure on the A-List: Hip-Hop playlist, and the numbers reflect that: For the week ending August 17, over half of “Bodak Yellow”’s 15 million streams came from Apple Music users. Without top 40 radio airplay, the song has gone to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
As for Lil Uzi Vert, Greenwald makes prayer hands and gives thanks to the rap gods: His debut album, Luv Is Rage 2, is finally set for surprise release that Friday. It’s now been six months since Uzi uploaded “XO Tour Llif3.” Since then, it has been streamed over 1.3 billion times across audio and video platforms. (Industry sources estimate that the label will earn roughly $4.5 million from those streams, out of which Uzi banks over $900,000.) When the album drops, Basa will spotlight six different tracks from Luv Is Rage 2 on RapCaviar. “‘XO”’s not going away either,” he tells me the following week. “It’s still a monster.”
While 900 stacks isn’t small money by any measure, and we should note this is still speculative, it pales to what’s being potentially taken off the top. This doesn’t figure into other deals Vert might launch off, such as touring and merchandise, which considering his popularity might be where the bulk of his money will continue to pour in.
Check out the rest of Vulture‘s profile here.