Radar Report 2023: Five trends that shaped the ESNS Radar charts in 2023


Data, lots of data… Every week the ESNS Radar chart measures which European songs break borders on radio and streaming. Now that 2023 draws to a close, which trends emerge from monitoring the European radio plays and streaming data? If you look at the tracks that find success outside the country of origin, the following five conclusions can be drawn.

RAYE / Press

by Menno Visser
Music journalist and radio programmer

#1: The influence of TikTok is huge


Social media app TikTok’s influence on the European music scene can be easily found in the ESNS Radar Year-end charts. For example, ‘Escapism’ (Human Sources) by British R’n’B singer Raye is in the Top 100 twice: The normal tempo version at #5, of course, and also the ‘sped-up’ version appears at #56. (Sped-up versions are a hugely popular TikTok trend that sound just like if you play a vinyl album at the wrong speed of 45 rpm.)

But there’s another sign that suggests that TikTok is shaking the European music world: There are no less than thirteen non-Christmas tracks in the main Top 100 that were released more than three years ago. Led by ‘Another Love’ (Sony) at #3 by British singer-songwriter Tom Odell, a 2013 song trending on TikTok after it was repeatedly used to accompany footage of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Word on TikTok is: Vibe is more important than a song’s release date on the platform.

#2: Brexit dents the spread of new British music

Pop music is an important export product for Great Britain. If we look at the main ESNS Radar Year-end chart for 2023, more than two-thirds of the songs are British. This is approximately the same number as last year’s Year-end chart – even a little bit higher thanks to many British Christmas evergreens, which didn’t appear in last year’s Year-end chart as the last two months of data were not included in 2022.

But the Brexit difficulties reveal themselves in the Emerging year-end chart, which only tracks songs from artists who released their debut single less than three years ago. There ‘only’ 39 tracks are from British origin, a far cry from the predominance in the main chart. Possible reasons for that gap could be the difficulties at customs British bands are facing on tour, for instance.

#3: The German hip-hop scene is thriving

The space the British acts have given up in the Emerging year-end chart, has been easily claimed by German hip hop acts. There are no less than 31 German acts in that chart, mostly hip hop and R’n’B. German songs easily cross over to other German-speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland. German R’n’B’ chanteuse Ayliva appears no less than six times in the Emerging chart, her most popular song is ‘Sie Weiß’ (Warner) at #10.


#4: Radio and streaming tell two different stories


If you look at the separate ESNS Radar Year-end charts for streaming and airplay, they reveal two different stories. Only four tracks feature in both Top 10s. And some tracks in the streaming Top 10 don’t even show up in Top 100 airplay, and vice versa. The above mentioned ‘Another Love’ by Tom Odell is #2 in streaming, for example, but nowhere to be found in airplay, as it is seen on radio as just an old track. On the other hand, radio favourite ‘Forget Me’ (Universal) by British singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi at #8 sees radio as a feel-good track, but is not so popular on streaming.

#5: The ESNS Festival is a springboard into the Europe scene for pop acts

During the ESNS Festival, a lot of attention goes to the acts that give a stellar performance on stage. Mostly, these acts are more edgy, like the most booked act of ESNS 2023: Belgian indie rock band The Haunted Youth. According to the ESNS Exchange program data they were booked at 13 European festivals this year. But turning to the ESNS Radar Year-end chart, and you can see that pop acts perform well, measured by streaming and airplay. British pop singer Mimi Webb appears three times and Irish singer-songwriter Cian Ducrot shows up twice in the Top 10. The bottom line is, the ESNS Festival is a great introduction to European success for pop acts.

The Haunted Youth