dua lipa named the uk’s most played artist of 2020

Today UK music licensing company PPL announces its Most Played Charts of 2020, with Dua Lipa ranked the most played artist of the year after a string of hit singles from her BRIT award-winning second album Future Nostalgia1.

With an upbeat retro pop and disco sound, the album was released four days after the start of the UK’s first national lockdown in March 2020 and became the soundtrack for many during the pandemic. Two singles from the album – ‘Don’t Start Now’ and ‘Physical’ – made the top 10 most played tracks of the year as The Weeknd took the No. 1 spot with ‘Blinding Lights’, which was also the year’s most streamed hit2. Last month, the Canadian won his first ever BRIT Award for International Male Solo Artist.

PPL’s annual charts are compiled from exclusive music usage and airplay data from radio stations and television channels as well as public performance locations, showcasing the music that soundtracks our lives.

Rise to number one

It is the second time that Dua Lipa has appeared in the top ten of PPL’s most played artist chart, having occupied eighth place in 2018 as a result of the success of ‘One Kiss’, her collaboration with Calvin Harris. This year’s number one spot further highlights her status as a chart-topping pop superstar.

It also reflects how her music connected with listeners during an incredibly challenging year when the UK spent many months at home under lockdown. This latest success for Dua follows Future Nostalgia winning Best British Album at last month’s BRIT Awards where she was also named British Female Solo Artist.

Dua Lipa’s success knocks Ed Sheeran from the top spot, which he has held every year since 2017. However, he was still the second most played artist of the year, mainly due to his strong back catalogue. ‘Afterglow’, his only release of 2020, did not come out until late December. Ariana Grande was the year’s third most played artist, the first time she has appeared in PPL’s top ten artists chart, thanks to hits including her Lady Gaga collaboration ‘Rain On Me’, which was the year’s 10th most played track.

Solo success

In a reversal on recent trends, there is only one collaboration amongst 2020’s top five most played tracks – Kygo and Whitney Houston’s ‘Higher Love’, at number three. Since 2008 collaborations have received an increasing share of radio airplay, culminating in four of 2019’s top five tracks featuring more than one artist. Indeed, ‘Higher Love’ is a repeat entry, having been released in June 2019 and coming sixth in that year’s most played tracks chart. Only one other track since PPL started its charts in 2008 has appeared in the top ten in multiple years – P!nk’s ‘What About Us’, which was 2017’s ninth most played track and 2018’s tenth most played track.

Fan favourites

Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris and Sam Smith, who were the three most played artists of 2019, are also among 2020’s top five most played artists. Sheeran takes second place, Smith is fourth and Harris is in fifth position. Alongside Coldplay and Little Mix, Harris has been in the top ten most played artists chart every year for the last five years, from 2016 to 2020. Meanwhile, Coldplay have achieved the unmatched feat of having been one of the ten most played artists for eight of the last ten years. Coldplay finish in seventh position on the 2020 chart, one place below Little Mix.

Dua Lipa, 2020’s most played artist, said:

“Thank you so much to everyone that listened to and loved my music during 2020. I’m incredibly proud that I was the most played artist on radio, TV and all across the UK. I so wanted Future Nostalgia to bring some happiness during such a difficult time. Thanks to everyone who supported it and also to PPL, who do important work in making sure artists and musicians are paid when their music is played.”

Peter Leathem, Chief Executive Officer at PPL, said:

“Music’s power as a force for good was needed more than ever in 2020 as we faced a year like no other. The artists in our 2020 charts played a significant role in helping many of us to get through these difficult times and I would like to congratulate them all. I am also immensely proud of the work that PPL did last year, collecting royalties for the public performance of recorded music and distributing these to the performers and record labels that created it. With live music shut down for much of 2020, PPL’s royalty payments became an even more important source of income for these artists.”

PPL’s Most Played Charts of 2020 are announced today as the company hosts its AGM and publishes its Annual Review, detailing last year’s financial and operational results. In 2020 PPL collected a total of £225.7 million for performers and recording rightsholders. It distributed money at least once to over 135,000 performers and recording rightsholders.


1. Four singles from Future Nostalgia were in the top ten of the Official Charts Company singles chart during 2020: ‘Don’t Start Now’, ‘Physical’, ‘Break My Heart’ and ‘Levitating’.
2. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-9006351/The-Weeknds-Blinding-Lights-named-Spotfys-streamed-song-2020-Grammys-snub.html

PPL’s Most Played Tracks Chart of 2020

  • Blinding Lights

    The Weeknd

  • Don’t Start Now

    Dua Lipa

  • Higher Love

    Kygo & Whitney Houston

  • Dance Monkey

    Tones & I

  • Adore You

    Harry Styles

  • Before You Go

    Lewis Capaldi

  • Physical

    Dua Lipa

  • Memories

    Maroon 5

  • This Is Real

    Jax Jones & Ella Henderson

  • Rain On Me

    Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

PPL’s Most Played Artist Chart of 2020

  • Dua Lipa

  • Ed Sheeran

  • Ariana Grande

  • Sam Smith

  • Calvin Harris

  • Little Mix

  • Coldplay

  • Justin Bieber

  • Maroon 5

  • The Weeknd