Local Current Blog

Spotify’s list of most-played Minnesota artists might surprise you

With 254,546,598 plays for "Fireflies," Owl City is the most-streamed Minnesota artist (photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel).

We know that Minnesota is home to a wealth of musical talent. Each month, Minnesotan artists rack up millions of streams on Spotify — but which artists are people listening to the most?

To answer this question, City Pages asked Spotify for a list of the state’s most-streamed artists of all time. The results are in: City Pages has compiled a list of the service’s 30 most-streamed Minnesota artists. Many of the names on the list are familiar: Prince, Semisonic, Soul Asylum, and the Replacements all made the list, along with newer artists like Hippo Campus and Poliça.

However, some of the results might come as a surprise. Owatonna native Adam Young, who makes music as Owl City, snagged the number one spot with over 250 million streams for his hit “Fireflies.” Some of the artists on the list aren’t actually from Minnesota, while others were born here but relocated out of state. Among the top 30 are an instrumental piano duo, a classical conductor, a stand-up comedian, and a YouTube star. To make sense of it all, here is a recap of some of the surprising results from Spotify’s list of 30 most-streamed Minnesota artists.

Bob Dylan didn’t make the list

This one even shocked City Pages: the list of most-streamed Minnesota artists does not include Bob Dylan. Perhaps Spotify classifies Dylan under New York, where the singer relocated to record his first albums. Even so, the Spotify list includes a number of Minnesotan-born artists who moved out of state to continue their careers — like Owl City and Lizzo. City Pages notified Spotify of Dylan’s absence, and Spotify reps say they are looking into it. (If included in the list, Bob Dylan would rank at #2 with 117,926,368 plays for “Like a Rolling Stone.”)

Prince is not #1

Despite his purple reign over the state, Prince got bumped to #2 by Owl City. While this may come as a shock, City Pages explains that Prince’s discography just landed on Spotify in February. Since Prince previously limited the streaming service’s access to his music, he hasn’t had as much time to accrue Spotify streams.

You probably haven’t heard of #4

Number four on the list has over 500,000 monthly listeners — but chances are you won’t recognize their name. Brothers Tim and Ryan O’Neill are an instrumental piano duo from New Prague who have recorded over 40 CDs. They have recorded covers of popular songs like Of Monsters and Men’s “Little Talks” and Bruno Mars’s “When I Was Your Man,” popular for weddings and other occasions.

#12 is an English conductor

Sir Neville Marriner had an illustrious career in classical music. He founded the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields — a London chamber orchestra — and was regarded as one of the world’s greatest conductors. However, he is not technically a Minnesotan. Spotify included him in the list because he led the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1986.

The Lion King’s Nala is from St. Paul

Movie soundtracks often rack up large numbers of Spotify streams, especially those that tap into our sense of nostalgia. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from 1994’s The Lion King has over 66 million streams on Spotify, with the voice of Nala supplied by St. Paul voice actor/musician Sally Dworsky. Dworksy’s voice can also be heard in The Prince of Egypt and Mulan.

One of the artists is a stand-up comedian

The late standup comedian Mitch Hedberg, a St. Paul native, made a name for himself in the late ’90s and early 2000’s for his deadpan delivery and terse one-liners. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 37, but his jokes still reach over 100 thousand Spotify listeners per month.

A YouTuber earned spot #24

Jonathan Young has over 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube. The Northfield native has recorded metal covers of popular songs including Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer,” the theme from Skyrim, and “You’re Welcome” from Disney’s Moana.

Colleen Cowie runs the blog Pass The Mic.