Music

Streaming figures aren't ticket sales, but Denmark's MØ is a future megastar

MØ is performing to modest audiences despite racking up millions of streams online. She's a star in the making, though, and an example of why the live album cycle is still needed in the industry

Online streaming stats have long since become the dominant metric in the music industry, to such an extent that something akin to Massively Big Number Fatigue has started to set in. Close to two billion streams on Spotify for Drake’s ‘One Dance’ featuring Wizkid and Kyla? Big deal, they’re probably mostly sympathetic clicks by Drake’s mum. Almost six billion YouTube views for Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito featuring Daddy Yankee? I’m stifling a yawn here. Thirty trillion hits across all online platforms for DJ Fannypack’s Trouserquake featuring MC Featuring? I made that one up, but would it matter if I hadn’t?

Streams are of course more or less entirely free to listen to, and so don’t always tell the full story as to an artist’s success in building an active and engaged audience. Case in point: Danish electro-R&B artist MØ. Her vocal credits include two Major Lazer enormo-hits – the 953 million times Spotify streamed ‘Cold Water’ and the 1.2 billion times streamed ‘Lean On’, the latter being one of Spotify’s five most successful songs of all time. As a lead artist she has wracked up a cool 400 million plays just for ‘Final Song’ alone. MØ could, based on raw figures, quite rightly claim to be one of the biggest stars in the world, apt to be packing out arenas. Not bad for a writer and performer with DIY indie roots, whose youth was misspent playing squat parties with a punk band.

Look at what all of that exposure tangibly translates to in live terms, however, and things start to seem more modest. I watched MØ play a captivating show in Glasgow a few months back, yet at which she managed to only three-quarters fill a mid-sized venue on a Saturday night. Look at the capacity of some of the rooms she’s booked to headline on a European tour in support of her new album Forever Neverland and you start to get a truer measure of the 30-year-old’s still steadily growing reach at this stage in her career: 1,500 on the opening night in Hamburg, 2,000 a few nights later in Warsaw, 4,000 in Stockholm. Only in her native Denmark – at Copenhagen’s 12,000 capacity Royal Arena – does she look to be achieving the kind of box office you might anticipate based on those Massively Big Numbers.

If there’s another stat that explains a few things then it might be this: MØ has released only one previous album to date, four years ago at that, her debut No Mythologies to Follow. Maybe the traditional album-promo-touring cycle still counts for a lot more than some people might think when it comes to properly building an audience, even in the digital age when one-hit stars are supposedly meant to be made overnight? Perhaps MØ needs to keep cranking out the records, and visiting your town time and time again to support them, working her way up the rungs of the live ladder like most pop musicians have for more than half a century? Four years ago she was playing tiny clubs, so she’s already well on her way.

Forever Neverland is great – a headstrong, potent and woke leftfield pop gem, full of hooks and emotion and attitude and should-be-hits such as the Diplo-produced ‘Sun In Our Eyes’, the shrewdly anthemic ‘Mercy’ and ‘If It’s Over’ featuring MØ’s very much kindred spirit Charli XCX. She’ll make it towards the top in time, and make no mistake about it. Not because some mysterious and relatively arbitrary metric says that it’s already a done deal, but because MØ’s gifted and cool and dedicated and tenacious. Try going to one of her shows and you’ll see for yourself.

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