How Much Bigger Can “Despacito” Get? It Depends on China

“Despacito” by Luis Fonsi is by far the biggest single of 2017. When I checked this morning, the original video has been viewed more than 4.3 billion times while the Justin Bieber remix has another 600,000. In addition to those five billion-ish views are all the streams on Spotify and the other music streaming services. Plus millions of radio plays. Plus video play on conventional television. Plus–well, you get the idea. How much bigger can one song get?

Maybe a lot. There’s still the little matter of China.

Despite sweeping the globe, the original Spanish version of “Despacito” has never been officially released in China. And because it’s tough to get to YouTube from the Middle Kingdom, most of the country’s 1.6 billion people have yet to be seduced by “Despacito’s” charms.

That’s why Fonsi had just teamed up with JJ Lin, a Chinese language superstar from Singapore and production team The Swaggernautz to create a Spanish-Mandarin version of the song. And in something of a switch-up, it’s Fonsi who sings in Mandarin while Lin takes care of the Spanish parts.

The new remix was released in China today (November 21), a market that leads the world when it comes to streaming. One company, QQ Music, has 400 million monthly users. Another service, Kugou, says it has 450 million users each month. Then there’s Kuwo Music (100 million), NetEase Cloud Music (60 million) and Xiami Music (15 million). Added together, that’s more than TEN TIMES Spotify’s global reach.

If this works, an international global hit is about to become even bigger.

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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