Ambient music is not the most popular music genre in the world, but that hasn’t stopped one Maltese artist from going viral on the popular music-streaming website Spotify. There are currently about two million artists on Spotify, but the top artists (just over 3% of that whole list) generate more than 95% of all the streams. Against all these odds, 22-year-old Robert Farrugia got featured on an official Spotify playlist. From there, all the honours instantly starting rolling out.
“My tracks were originally uploaded on Spotify via Archives, a Spanish record label that I’ve been working under,” Farrugia explained. “I do check stats and trends every once in a while, but being an ambient act from Malta with barely any exposure, I don’t really expect much.”
“Recently, though, my tracks started being chosen for some podcasts, and it all kicked off from there,” he said. Sasha Frere-Jones, a very popular music critic who’s previously worked with both the New Yorker and the LA Times, included Robert’s latest album, Slow Morning, as one of the top for 2017. Suddenly, Robert’s name was on lists along with the likes of Brian Eno, Migos, Charli XCX and Kendrick Lamar, and his songs started getting way more plays.
“My songs had less than 1,000 plays each on Spotify, and a couple of days later, they suddenly had 20K!” said Robert. From there, however, things only got better.
A mere couple of days after all this, Robert was informed that he’d be featured on an official Spotify playlist which was handpicked by the site itself. The playlist, Dreamy Vibes, had well over 100,000 followers, and quickly, the title track from Robert’s new album started to really rack up some mean views.
As it currently stands, Robert Farrugia’s Slow Morning has amassed 265,638 plays. And yes, that’s a very unprecedented number for a Maltese artist; that one song now has more plays than some of the most popular songs by Airport Impressions, Winter Moods and Red Electrick combined. It’s also one of the most played Maltese songs on Spotify (by a huge margin), with Ira Losco’s Eurovision 2016 entry Walk On Water being one of the only tracks that got more hits (well over a million).
Not bad for an underground musician from the tiny island of Malta!
“It feels wonderful,” Robert said of his newfound online success. “Knowing how many people have listened to my music puts a smile on my face, and sometimes it all feels so surreal.”
Robert has played a handful of gigs around the island, from intimate indoor gigs to sunset sessions at Malta’s most beautiful beaches, both alone and with fellow musicians from his band Eyes to Argus. For more information on future performances, stay tuned on his regularly-updated Facebook page.