It seems fitting that, even in a post-apocalyptic end of times, Depeche Mode is still finding ways to reach new audiences. For over four decades, these electro-pop pioneers have proven to be one of England’s finest exports. However, thanks in part to HBO’s new series The Last of Us, these living legends are enjoying a wave of renewed interest. The show, whose finale aired this past Sunday, has helped breathe new life into this beloved band, as its bleak and desolate atmosphere proved perfectly suited to DM’s moody lyrics and synth-heavy melodies. And as the show gained in popularity, so too has the band’s music.
More specifically, 1987’s brooding “Never Let Me Down Again” surged to a monstrous +526% increase in total on-demand streams and a +2109% increase in radio airplay after being featured in the show’s captivating season premiere. And while the elevated radio exposure for the track has since receded, airplay for Depeche Mode’s total catalog has only continued to gain momentum. In fact, the band registered a weekly radio audience of 9.4M at the beginning of March, a figure they haven’t reached in almost 14 years.
Though we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention Linda Ronstad’s “Long Long Time”, another legacy track used on the show to great effect. Like the program’s undead creatures, this 1970 classic was resurrected by the show’s gut-wrenching third episode, yielding exponential streaming growth (+2786%) and tugging at our heartstrings like a pack of hungry zombies. Beyond the emotional weight each carried in the show, we also found these tracks shared an almost identical pattern of decay after being featured in the program. Streaming activity for each song peaked 2 days after their appearance in the show, followed by a 2 week half-life until streaming volume finally dropped below 50% of its peak popularity.
Yet despite their initial similarities, the trajectories for these songs diverge the further we look beyond their appearances in the show. While “Never Let Me Down Again” has better sustained its newfound popularity with 46% of peak streaming volume at Day 30, activity for “Long Long Time” has dissipated to only 31% of its peak volume at the same point in time. This longer tail for Depeche Mode is even further punctuated by the continued increase in streams we’ve seen for the band’s remaining catalog (outside this featured song), which – on Day 30 post-episode – was still +41% higher than pre-Last of Us levels. By contrast, Linda Ronstadt’s remaining catalog only saw a modest +1% increase over this same time.
This bump in catalog consumption comes as people are exploring Depeche Mode’s larger discography, uncovering hidden gems and deep cuts they may have missed before. Over the past month, the band’s also released a new single (“Ghosts Again”) and announced a North American leg to its world tour, which have only added to the interest and inertia they’ve enjoyed of late. And just like the undead creatures that populate the show, Depeche Mode has also feasted on younger listeners likely discovering their world of music for the very first time. The audience of the The Last of US video game has helped boost this trend, as 75% of its users are either Gen-Z or Millennials and are also +171% more likely to listen to electronic dance music. All of these factors have combined to help catapult Depeche Mode over +450 spots higher in the U.S.’s artist on-demand streaming rankings.
In the end, great music never really goes out of style. Given the right platform, even a decades-old band like Depeche Mode can still capture the hearts and minds of a new generation. And thanks to The Last of US, the band’s revival couldn’t have come at a better time, as they’re hitting all the right notes just ahead of their new album release later this month. It just goes to show that, no matter how many years go by, some of us still “just can’t get enough.”
Luminate Entertainment 365
Luminate Music Connect
All streaming figures represent total on-demand streaming activity (audio & video)
Change in song-level streaming: Never Let Me Down Again (01/01/23 – 1/22/23), Long Long Time (01/15/23 – 02/05/23)
Change in catalog streaming: Depeche Mode (01/01/23 – 2/14/23), Linda Ronstadt (01/15/23 – 02/28/23)