Streaming Nostalgia: ‘Beef’ on Netflix Unlocks Catalog Classics to a Newer, Younger Audience

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When the Netflix series ‘Beef’ first aired on April 6th, 2023, in the US, the dark comedy featured over 20 catalog tracks from the 90s and early 2000s.

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Photo Credit: Netflix

When the Netflix series ‘Beef’ first aired on April 6th, 2023 in the US, the dark comedy featured over 20 catalog tracks from the 90s and early 2000s. By May, ‘Beef’ dominated the Billboard Top TV Songs chart, powered by Tunefind, with three out of the top-four entries and six out of the top-ten placements.

‘Beef’ was clearly a catapult for music. So we set out to discover just how big of an impact the show had on music discovery for catalog gems.

In partnership with sync heavyweight Songtradr, we analyzed data to identify the catalog songs that experienced the highest spikes in Spotify streams, YouTube views, and Shazam counts. Among the standout tracks were “Lonely Day” by System of a Down (released in 1999), “Drive” by Incubus (1999), “Mayonaise” and “Today” by The Smashing Pumpkins (both released in 1993), and “Self Esteem” by The Offspring (1994).

According to Chartmetric data and Billboard chart positions powered by Songtradr-owned Tunefind, the show’s sync placements have profoundly impacted younger audiences. These new audiences actively sought out older tracks, resulting in notable increases in Shazam activity and, in some cases, triggering millions of new streams and views on platforms like Spotify and YouTube. Additionally, a few of these songs even found their way onto TikTok as younger fans breathed new life into these classics.

One of the bigger wins was “Lonely Day” by System of a Down, first released in 1999. The track ranked No.8 on Billboard’s Top TV Songs chart after being featured on ‘Beef’s’ Episode 5 (‘Such Inward Secret Creatures’).

‘Beef’ first aired on April 6th, and by April 8th, the show’s audience had triggered a significant spike in Shazam counts for the band. The track scored over 5,200 Shazam counts in a single day as viewers tried to identify the 1999 track. This increase continued for a month after release, well into May. It has now settled back towards normalcy within the 900-1,000 range.

Numbers spiked to over 5,200 Shazam counts in a day as ‘Beef’ audiences sought out the catalog track "Lonely Day."

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Numbers spiked to over 5,200 Shazam counts in a day as ‘Beef’ audiences sought out the catalog track "Lonely Day."

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Numbers spiked to over 5,200 Shazam counts in a day as ‘Beef’ audiences sought out the catalog track.

Higher Shazam counts should theoretically spill over to streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube. In this case, they did. The YouTube video for “Lonely Day” revealed significant viewer activity immediately following its inclusion in ‘Beef.’

Between April 6th and April 9th, YouTube views rose by half a million, continuing to spike steadily since then. In total, the track gained over 6.7 million new YouTube views between April 6th and June 3rd.

6.7 million additional YouTube views for “Lonely Day” between April 6th and June 3rd.

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6.7 million additional YouTube views for “Lonely Day” between April 6th and June 3rd.

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6.7 million additional YouTube views for “Lonely Day” between April 6th and June 3rd.

Looking at Spotify numbers, a massive spillover of listeners clearly made it to the streaming platform. This increase in Spotify streams paints a promising picture for every catalog track that scores a TV sync. But “Lonely Day” was already averaging 400,000 streams per day before the sync in ‘Beef,’ so it wasn’t exactly undiscovered.

But one month after ‘Beef’ aired, critical acclaim for the show spread like wildfire. And as more widespread discussions took place on social media platforms and news portals — streams for “Lonely Day” quickly spiked.

The track recorded over a million new streams on May 14th alone (about 5 weeks after the show aired). In total, 23 million new streams occurred between April 6th and June 3rd.

One month after release, following critical acclaim for the show 'Beef,' "Lonely Day" recorded a million new streams on May 14th alone.

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One month after release, following critical acclaim for the show 'Beef,' "Lonely Day" recorded a million new streams on May 14th alone.

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One month after release, following critical acclaim for the show ‘Beef,’ “Lonely Day” recorded a million new streams on May 14th alone.

Another track that emerged victorious after its sync in ‘Beef’ was the rock/pop song “Drive” by Incubus — claiming the No.2 spot on the Billboard Top TV Songs chart. The song was originally released in 1999 and is now featured within the ending credits of Episode 3 (‘I Am Inhibited By a Cry’).

On April 6th — the day ‘Beef’ aired — Shazam counts for the track surged instantly, peaking on April 11th with a whopping 10,000 Shazam counts in one day. The high number of Shazam searches continued until April 30th before starting to taper off. Out of the total 3.2 million Shazam counts for “Drive,” 200,000 were hits between April 6th and June 3rd.

On April 11, 5 days after ‘Beef’ aired, the track scored a whopping 10,000 Shazam counts in one day.

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On April 11, 5 days after ‘Beef’ aired, the track scored a whopping 10,000 Shazam counts in one day.

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On April 11, 5 days after ‘Beef’ aired, the track scored a whopping 10,000 Shazam counts in one day.

While exploring YouTube views for the “Drive” official music video, it’s clear that the track averaged 30,000 new views per day before the featured sync on ‘Beef.’

The show triggered a spike in views just days after release, reaching 50,000 per day. The rise continued, steadily sustaining an average of 50,000-55,000 views every day. 3 million total views (almost 10% of total views) on the video occurred after the feature.

3 million total YouTube views (almost 10% of total views) on the "Drive" video occurred after the feature in 'Beef.'

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3 million total YouTube views (almost 10% of total views) on the "Drive" video occurred after the feature in 'Beef.'

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3 million total views (almost 10% of total views) on the video occurred after the feature.

Spotify numbers reveal a thriving resurgence for the 24-year-old track.

Streaming numbers rose rapidly as more people raved about ‘Beef’ and spurred new viewers onto the Netflix show. By the end of April, the track averaged over 350,000 new streams daily. 16.6 million new streams, an impressive 3.7% of all-time streams, can be loosely credited to the ‘Beef’ sync.

By the end of April, the track "Drive" averaged over 350,000 new Spotify streams daily.

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By the end of April, the track "Drive" averaged over 350,000 new Spotify streams daily.

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By the end of April, the track averaged over 350,000 new streams daily.

Between April 12th and April 22nd, TikTok, with 71.3% of all adult users aged 18-34, stepped into the discovery realm. A noticeable spike in TikTok activity may prove that the song reached Gen Z for the first time.

Noticeable spike in TikTok activity for "Drive" perhaps means that the song reached Gen Z for the first time.

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Noticeable spike in TikTok activity for "Drive" perhaps means that the song reached Gen Z for the first time.

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Noticeable spike in TikTok activity perhaps means that the song reached Gen Z for the first time.

Next, we looked at “Mayonaise” by The Smashing Pumpkins. The track was originally released three decades ago in January 1993, taking its spot in the season finale Episode 10 (‘Figures of Light’).

Chartmetric doesn’t present Shazam or TikTok stats for this track, but the platform recorded an increase of 150,000 Spotify streams on April 15th. “Mayonaise” is steadily maintaining this number to date. 4 million of the 55 million all-time streams (almost 7.7%) occurred after its ‘Beef’ feature.

Almost 7.7% of all streams occurred after the April 6th release of 'Beef' featuring the decades-old track.

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Almost 7.7% of all streams occurred after the April 6th release of 'Beef' featuring the decades-old track.

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Almost 7.7% of all streams occurred after the April 6th release of ‘Beef’ featuring the decades-old track.

Just three days after the show aired, YouTube views began to rise. Since “Mayonaise” featured in the last episode, it makes sense that views would peak on April 17th, ten days after the show originally aired.

YouTube views spiked around April 9th, as the song featured in the last episode of the show ‘Beef.’

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YouTube views spiked around April 9th, as the song featured in the last episode of the show ‘Beef.’

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YouTube views spiked around April 9th, as the song featured in the last episode of the show ‘Beef.’

Another catalog track that emerged victorious from ‘Beef’ is “Today” by The Smashing Pumpkins. The track had originally released in 1993, but listener data shows it was a popular choice for audiences long before its ‘Beef’ feature — not to say that ‘Beef’ didn’t increase its already impressive listener count.

“Today” claimed the No.9 spot on the Billboard Top TV Songs chart. According to Tunefind, ‘Beef’ is the 6th confirmed sync placement in a TV show for the track, but its last two syncs occurred a while back — in 2014. After being featured in the teaser and Episode 1 of ‘Beef,’ the song enjoyed renewed activity and obvious spikes on Spotify and YouTube.

Chartmetric recorded over 3.1 million new streams since the April 6th release of ‘Beef,’ representing an impressive 5.7% of all-time streams. Numbers increased pretty steadily for the most part, and on May 13th, streams hiked to almost 130,000 in a single day.

5 weeks after the show 'Beef' aired, streams for "Today" spiked to almost 130,000 in one day

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5 weeks after the show 'Beef' aired, streams for "Today" spiked to almost 130,000 in one day

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5 weeks after the show aired, streams spiked to almost 130,000 in one day

The number of views for the “Today” YouTube video also rose impressively, peaking on April 9th, a mere three days after the show aired. Over 1.1 million views, 2.1% of all-time views on the video, occurred after April 6th.

Over 1.1 million views since April 6th, representing 2.1% of all-time views on "Today" YouTube video.

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Over 1.1 million views since April 6th, representing 2.1% of all-time views on "Today" YouTube video.

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Over 1.1 million views since April 6th, representing 2.1% of all-time views on “Today” YouTube video.

The Offspring’s “Self Esteem” featured in Episode 4 (‘Just Not All At The Same Time’), and served as the closing credits song in ‘Beef.’ The track ranked No.4 on the Top TV Songs chart.

This 1994 release had already experienced significant exposure before the show, with previous sync placements in movies like “White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch” in 2022 and “Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage” in 2021.

Before its inclusion in ‘Beef,’ “Self Esteem” consistently garnered around a quarter of a million daily streams on Spotify. The track’s frequent sync placements and appearances in movies likely contributed to its popularity among listeners on the platform, many of whom are probably around the same age as the song itself.

Following the airing of ‘Beef,’ there was a notable spike in streams. Since April 6th, the track has accumulated an impressive 15.6 million streams. That number accounts for approximately 3.5% of its all-time Spotify streams.

"Self Esteem" is popular among Spotify listeners that are probably around the same age as the song itself.

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"Self Esteem" is popular among Spotify listeners that are probably around the same age as the song itself.

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Popular among Spotify listeners that are probably around the same age as the song itself.

On YouTube, the original music video for “Self Esteem” has surpassed 85 million views, with 3.6% of them occurring after the show aired on Netflix. The track quickly gained acclaim and continued to attract attention from viewers.

"Self Esteem" has surpassed 85 million views, with 3.6% of them occurring after the show aired on Netflix.

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"Self Esteem" has surpassed 85 million views, with 3.6% of them occurring after the show aired on Netflix.

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“Self Esteem” has surpassed 85 million views, with 3.6% of them occurring after the show aired on Netflix.

The phenomenon of sync reigniting interest in older music is not new.

‘Beef’ joins a growing list of television series that have brought catalog gems back into the spotlight, introducing them to younger and newer audiences. This could simply be proof that sync is powerful, and attaches desirability and fandom to any track featured on an audience’s favorite TV show.

Or, maybe this phenomenon simply sheds light on the enduring appeal of catalog classics and their ability to resonate with listeners across different eras. Despite the fact that most industry attention on catalogs focuses on expensive IP acquisitions, there’s something important to consider here: Maybe a great song is a great song regardless of when it was released, and listeners will flock to it in droves — if only they get to discover it.