We Hear You
Loud & Clear.

Artists deserve clarity about the economics of music streaming. This site aims to increase transparency by sharing new data on the global streaming economy and breaking down the royalty system, the players, and the process.

Artists want the opportunity to make a living from their work. We want that, too: Although more artists than ever are finding success through streaming, we’re nowhere near done, and we’ll keep pushing to grow the industry.

How the Money Flows

Additional Resources

Spotify and the Streaming Economy

Who is generating money? How much are they making? What’s considered a lot of streams? How do artists get paid? Let’s get into these questions and more…

Revenue Generation Over the Years

As of 2020, Spotify has paid over $23 billion in royalties to rights holders — including over $5 billion in 2020 alone, up from $3.3 billion in 2017.* 

To put those numbers in context, click a dollar amount below to see how many artists globally generated at least that amount — across recording and publishing for their catalog — for each of the past four years on Spotify.

Spotify is one of many music streaming services that generate revenue for rights holders. In 2020, Spotify accounted for more than 20% of recorded music revenue (up from less than 15% in 2017). And streaming only makes up a portion of all industry revenues, so these figures represent a part of the picture. These numbers do not account for revenue generated from other streaming services, physical sales, touring, merch, sync, or other sources.

*$23 billion, $5 billion, and $3.3 billion include both recording and publishing royalties. Spotify’s % of recorded music revenue calculated based on IFPI’s 2020 Global Music Report

To help put those numbers in context, click a dollar amount, to see how many artists have generated at least that much in royalties on Spotify for each of the past four years:

Streaming Numbers in Context

Royalties are calculated by “streamshare”, so it’s important to know how streaming numbers stack up on Spotify in 2020 to understand payouts.

What might have been a lot of streams even five years ago looks pretty different today. In fact, over 207,000 songs were streamed over a million times in 2020 alone.

Enter any monthly listener count for an artist or all-time stream count for a song to estimate how each number compares to all artists and songs on Spotify.

*Note that all numbers are rounded to the thousand.

0

monthly listeners would be in the top artists on Spotify globally

This artist is within the top 1,000 monthly listeners on Spotify

(based on 2020 data).

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all time streams would be in the top tracks on Spotify globally

This track is in the top 1,000 streams on Spotify

(based on 2020 data).

How the Money Flows

One of the questions we get asked most often is: How do artists and songwriters get paid? Let us break it down.

Some of The Musical Voices of Spotify

Of the millions of creators on Spotify, no two are the same. Each is unique, with their own hopes and dreams. There are artists we’ve known and loved for years, those who are just beginning to rock our world, those on the cusp of discovery, and those who are just starting out.

Our goal is to help professional musicians make a living. It’s something we take seriously. And while not every artist on Spotify will find the same success, we’re working to create opportunities for more creators to reach more fans. From there, listeners ultimately decide who succeeds and thrives. 

In 2020, 1.2 million artists had over 1,000 listeners. In this section, we’re focusing on select groups of these artists by charting their path to growth in streams and revenue. And based on trends and streaming data, we’ve broken them down to help you better understand who they are, how streaming has changed things for them, and what the future might look like. These groupings are illustrative only, so some artists might see themselves as fitting squarely into one of these descriptions, some could span a few, while others might simply be in a league of their own.

Meet the Artists on Spotify
Click for more about the different artist types on Spotify.
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DIY
These artists are honing their craft and making music in new and innovative ways.

Whether they’re recording from bedrooms, garages, or local studios, these acts are taking steps to do it themselves. Some have built a career, some are pushing hard to break through, and some are dabbling in music making. Each has the common goal of sharing their art with a world of like-minded music fans.

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Whether they’re recording from bedrooms, garages, or local studios, these acts are taking steps to do it themselves. Some have built a career, some are pushing hard to break through, and some are dabbling in music making. Each has the common goal of sharing their art with a world of like-minded music fans.

DIY on Spotify

Streaming has leveled the playing field for how DIY artists get their music into the world. As the cost of producing and releasing music has become more affordable, DIY artists can now access the same global audience and tools as chart-topping artists. They can release music whenever they want, from wherever they want, and collaborate with whomever they want. Their creative world is bigger than ever, and listeners globally can discover them like never before.

  • Criteria: More than 1,000 listeners in 2020 and they distribute music to Spotify via an artist distributor
  • Number of DIY Artists: 286,000
  • Average Royalties Generated in 2020*: $4,100
  • Average Monthly Listeners in 2020: 34,700
*

Average Royalties Generated represents 2020 revenue generated for an artist’s entire catalog across recording and publishing on Spotify. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 100.

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SPECIALIST
These artists, composers, and producers have identified niche audiences who have an ear for their unique music.

They bring an entrepreneurial mindset to their craft by creating sounds that enrich the lives of typically underserved listeners. In their musical innovations and inventions, they’ve found new and uncharted avenues of bringing audio to life.

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They bring an entrepreneurial mindset to their craft by creating sounds that enrich the lives of typically underserved listeners. In their musical innovations and inventions, they’ve found new and uncharted avenues of bringing audio to life.

Specialists on Spotify

In the streaming era, sleep sounds and meditation are in high demand, whereas in the purchase era, few people would have bought albums made for these specific reasons. And it’s not just for relaxation: yoga & fitness, children’s, and holiday music are helping specialist artists to generate income like never before. Coupled with the streaming innovations of playlisting, song search, and algorithmic recommendations, it’s now possible to succeed without the traditional needs of album packaging, tour, and promo. New listening experiences are also evolving for these artists, with dedicated app experiences (e.g., Spotify Kids or mindfulness and meditation services) and the thriving ecosystem of bespoke playlists tailored to mood, moment, and motivation.

  • Criteria: More than 25,000 monthly listeners with over 90% of tracks classified in Children’s, Classical, Easy Listening, Holiday, Religious, or Soundtrack
  • Number of Specialist Artists: 4,300
  • Average Royalties Generated in 2020*: $36,900
  • Average Monthly Listeners in 2020: 214,100
*

Average Royalties Generated represents 2020 revenue generated for an artist’s entire catalog across recording and publishing on Spotify. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 100.

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BREAKTHROUGH
These up-and-comers are generating plenty of early buzz and have A&Rs clamoring to work together.

They are rising fast and building a loyal fan base by leveraging the power of discovery. For some, it feels like it happened overnight. For others, it’s been years in the making. They have huge promise and are poised to make the leap from hometown hero to festival headliner.

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They are rising fast and building a loyal fan base by leveraging the power of discovery. For some, it feels like it happened overnight. For others, it’s been years in the making. They have huge promise and are poised to make the leap from hometown hero to festival headliner.

Breakthrough on Spotify

Streaming is helping more new artists break through — capturing the energy of a world that moves at the speed of social media virality. In 2020, 6,500 artists who released music for the first time crossed over 100,000 monthly listeners (up 180% year on year). Alongside their hard work, determination, and artistry, playlisting has helped these artists get discovered and become overnight sensations. In 2020, more than 64,000 artists were added to Spotify editorial playlists for the first time. And with streaming, listeners can quickly jump from discovering a breakthrough song to diving into that artist’s entire catalog, accelerating fandom like never before.

  • Criteria: Less than 1 million streams prior to 2019 — and are now in the top 50,000 of all artists by streams
  • Number of Breakthrough Artists: 6,900
  • Average Royalties Generated in 2020*: $31,000
  • Average Monthly Listeners in 2020: 282,000
*

Average Royalties Generated represents 2020 revenue generated for an artist’s entire catalog across recording and publishing on Spotify. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 1,000.

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CHART TOPPERS
These superstars have one-in-a-million careers and are changing the musical landscape globally.

Their lives are the stuff dreams are made of. Kids, coworkers, neighbors, and even your grandparents know their names. Their music is everywhere, and they top nearly every chart. Their hits just keep on coming and their popularity has no geographic boundaries.

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Their lives are the stuff dreams are made of. Kids, coworkers, neighbors, and even your grandparents know their names. Their music is everywhere, and they top nearly every chart. Their hits just keep on coming and their popularity has no geographic boundaries.

Chart Toppers on Spotify

Streaming has torn up the rules of topping the charts. Things that were unthinkable a decade ago are now commonplace: going global before waiting to be a hit at home; topping the charts in a country that doesn’t speak your language; having major success without the traditional album cycle. There’s no longer one path to the top, and superstar artists are finding ways to win that are more playful, prolific, and personal than ever before.

  • Criteria: The top 500 of all artists by listener numbers in 2020
  • 500 Chart Topper artists
  • Average Royalties Generated in 2020*: $3.7 million
  • Average Monthly Listeners in 2020: 17.3 million
*

Average Royalties Generated represents 2020 revenue generated for an artist’s entire catalog across recording and publishing on Spotify. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 100,000.

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SONGWRITERS & PRODUCERS
These hitmakers work their magic to create the songs we know and love — or are recording artists who are writing or producing their own tracks.

These are creatives who take a song from an idea to a lasting reality. You may not always know their voices, but their music still moves us. Since 2011, the U.S. songwriter population has grown by over half a million to 1.6 million and contributed to the creation of over 20 million American songs. The British songwriter population has grown by 115% since 2009 to 140,000.

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These are creatives who take a song from an idea to a lasting reality. You may not always know their voices, but their music still moves us. Since 2011, the U.S. songwriter population has grown by over half a million to 1.6 million and contributed to the creation of over 20 million American songs. The British songwriter population has grown by 115% since 2009 to 140,000.

Songwriters & Producers on Spotify

Streaming is changing the relationship between songwriters and listeners. Rather than being a behind-the-scenes creative force, songwriters & producers now have increasing ways to get their dues. There is now also an easier route to songwriters being credited as recording artists. Whether it’s as a side project or full time, streaming has made it far more feasible for songwriters and producers to also release music — giving them the opportunity to earn royalties for both recording and publishing. And with interactive song credits and playlists that showcase the entire catalog of a songwriter or producer, a global audience of music lovers is now falling for the brilliant minds that make such memorable music.

  • Criteria: Songwriters or producers either of their own music, as non-performing writers, or producers of another artist’s releases
    Total global revenues for publishing rights holders from all streaming services:
  • 2019: $3.4B*
  • 2018: $2.6B*
  • 2017: $1.7B*
*

Data based on the Global Value of Music Copyright Report, Will Page

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ESTABLISHED
These working artists have worked out how to make a career and lifelong fans from their music.

Rather than aiming for the Hot 100, these artists are focused on sustainable, long-term careers — as powered by regular playlisting and their creative output. Their fans are many and their loyalty to these life-changing artists is never-ending.

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Rather than aiming for the Hot 100, these artists are focused on sustainable, long-term careers — as powered by regular playlisting and their creative output. Their fans are many and their loyalty to these life-changing artists is never-ending.

Established on Spotify

Streaming has given artists a way to be more in tune with their fans and earning potential. With their established fan bases and strong catalogs, these professional artists can now rely on more predictable, ongoing incomes year on year. These artists are now part of the “Top 57,000” — that group of artists who earn 90% of all streams (and therefore of royalties) on Spotify. Streaming data also helps these artists understand more about their audience, which can inform lucrative decisions about touring and merch. And thanks to playlisting and followers, artists can find new audiences and keep superfans streaming for longer.

  • Criteria: In the top 50,000 artists by listener numbers for three years running (excluding the top 500 artists)
  • Number of Established Artists: 34,000
  • Average Royalties Generated in 2020*: $94,000
  • Average Monthly Listeners in 2020: 608,000
*

Average Royalties Generated represents 2020 revenue generated for an artist’s entire catalog across recording and publishing on Spotify. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 1,000.

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HERITAGE
These beloved artists have built an enduring musical heritage that is living on in the streaming age.

They often have released multiple albums and may have been around for a couple of decades. They’ve received recognition for their numerous musical contributions over the years and have inspired countless others. Whether they’re still on the road or their music has become their lasting legacy, these artists continue to inspire and engage fans around the world.

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They often have released multiple albums and may have been around for a couple of decades. They’ve received recognition for their numerous musical contributions over the years and have inspired countless others. Whether they’re still on the road or their music has become their lasting legacy, these artists continue to inspire and engage fans around the world.

Heritage on Spotify

Streaming has brought together two generations of listeners for heritage artists: those who were there at the time, and those who are discovering them for the first time. For both groups, streaming makes it easy to navigate extensive catalogs and get right to the songs that move them. There are also novel ways for artists to reinvent and repackage their catalogs to invite fans to celebrate important moments (anniversaries, milestones, new playlists). And there’s the ability to capitalize on unexpected spikes in popularity from sync, social media, and shifts in culture. In the streaming era, heritage artists can generate perpetual and passive royalties well beyond a release cycle — rather than relying almost exclusively on first-month physical or download sales spikes, like in the past.

  • Criteria: More than 500,000 monthly listeners in 2020 and 80% of streams from tracks more than 5 years old
  • Number of Heritage Artists: 2,600
  • Average Royalties Generated in 2020*: $407,000
  • Average Monthly Listeners in 2020: 2.4 million
*

Average Royalties Generated represents 2020 revenue generated for an artist’s entire catalog across recording and publishing on Spotify. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 1,000.

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MARKET MOVERS
These rising stars herald from markets around the world that are experiencing explosive growth in music streaming revenues.

They are crossing over, breaking barriers and making local fans proud, while also sharing their distinctive voices with listeners in new places.

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They are crossing over, breaking barriers and making local fans proud, while also sharing their distinctive voices with listeners in new places.

Market Mover on Spotify

Streaming has been a catalyst for immense growth in emerging music markets. Recorded music revenue grew by more than 15% year on year in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, India, Turkey, Spain, and Russia (IFPI). The switch to streaming by music fans in these markets has brought in huge revenues that would otherwise have been lost to music piracy. Across these seven markets, the number of artists generating at least $5,000 USD from Spotify has increased by 56% from 2018 to 2020. As a result, artists in these markets can turn their creativity into full-time careers and help shine a light on more music from their homes. They also have an unprecedented opportunity to take their sound to the world and break through in new markets thanks to the power of playlisting. In some of these markets — like India and Russia — Spotify hasn’t been around for long, but we’re seeing incredible demand. This means more opportunities for artists around the world to reach potential new fans.

  • Criteria: More than 25,000 monthly listeners in the seven markets where recorded music grew more than 15% year on year in 2019 according to IFPI (Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia, Spain, and Turkey)
  • Number of Market Mover Artists: 17,000
  • Average Royalties Generated in 2020*: $22,900
  • Average Monthly Listeners in 2020: 280,000
*

Average Royalties Generated represents 2020 revenue generated for an artist’s entire catalog across recording and publishing on Spotify. Royalties are in USD, converted from local currencies. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 100.

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Industry Context

Dive deeper with these other useful resources about streaming from think tanks, academic scholars, economists, and industry groups, as well as our Spotify for Artists.

Your Questions, Answered

We know you have a ton of questions around music streaming economics and we want to make sure to get you the answers. We’ve included the questions we get most frequently from artists and will continue to add to this list as more questions come in.

  • Why is Spotify launching Loud & Clear? How does this help artists?

    Questions and concerns about artist income from streaming have been around for over a decade, and in many ways, we feel we’ve been too quiet on the topic. Our aim with this site is to provide a valuable foundation for a constructive conversation. In sharing more information, we hope to answer questions and share useful resources about today’s streaming industry.

  • Wasn't the music industry better off before streaming?

    Spotify plays a leading role in this healthier music industry — as a sort of radio station and record store all rolled into one, but without their limitations.

    With radio, artists can reach lots of listeners. However, there’s limited space in a radio station’s rotation of songs — they typically stick to the Top 40, making it harder for artists to break through. And in some markets, not all talent is compensated for the music being played.

    Artists benefit from a high purchase price in record stores, but physical and digital sales don’t generate money from all of an artist’s fans — only those willing to spend money to download tracks or purchase a full album.

    Spotify solves these challenges with streaming. Streaming is where fans come to put their favorite artists on repeat, but it’s also where casual fans discover new music or rediscover old favorites. And revenue is generated from both types of listening—from fans who pay for Spotify Premium to advertisers who fund Spotify’s Free tier.

    When Spotify launched in 2008, the global recording industry had been ravaged by piracy — spiraling downward from 1999’s peak of over $25B to the industry’s low point in 2014, when the combined market of physical and digital sales was $14 billion.

    Since then, streaming has powered the resurgence of the music industry. In 2019, the total revenue of the recording industry was just over $20 billion — with $11.4 billion of that coming from streaming. And from Spotify alone, last year in 2020, we paid out over $5 billion to rights holders, more than any other streaming service. Last year, Spotify accounted for more than 20% of all recorded music revenue (based on IFPI data) — up from less than 15% in 2017.

    When you combine the growth of the overall royalty pool paid out to rights holders — and the expanding number of artists succeeding thanks to streaming — we believe the future is incredibly bright for artists’ careers. At this rate, we think that the music industry will surpass its 1999 peak in 2025 because of streaming royalties.

  • Is streaming only helping music’s biggest stars?

    No. Streaming has fundamentally changed the music ecosystem — lowering barriers to entry and democratizing access to audio for listeners across the world. Artists no longer need big budgets to create, distribute, and amplify their music around the world. 

    More creators are creating — and succeeding — than ever before. In 2020, over 76,000 artists were added to Spotify playlists for the first time, the large majority of which were discovered through our playlist pitching tool, which is freely available to all artists. Also, as of 2020, 57,000 artists now represent 90% of monthly streams on Spotify — a number that has quadrupled in just six years. That means a growing and increasingly diverse group of artists are finding fanbases.

  • How do artists and songwriters get paid?

    Spotify primarily makes money for music from two sources — from Spotify Premium subscribers as well as from advertisers on Spotify’s free tier. Roughly ⅔  of this money is paid out to music rights holders. In 2020 alone, that number  — what we refer to as the ‘royalty pool’  — was over $5 billion from Spotify alone.

    Spotify divvies up that royalty pool based on each rights holder’s streamshare on Spotify. This money is not divvied up based on a fixed amount per stream, because Premium subscribers do not pay per stream; they pay a subscription fee for access 

    From there, we encourage you to check out our “How the Money Flows” video. 

  • How is streamshare calculated?

    Every month, in each country we operate in, we calculate streamshare by adding up how many times music owned or controlled by a particular rights holder was streamed and dividing it by the total number of streams in that market.

    So if an artist received one in every 1,000 streams in Mexico on Spotify, they would receive one of every $1,000 paid to rights holders from the Mexican royalty pool. That total royalty pool for each country is based on the subscription and music advertising revenues in that market.

  • If an artist has millions of streams, why don’t they earn more?

    Spotify has been around for more than a decade. We now have over 345 million listeners, streaming more songs per month than ever before, which means the activity on the platform increases exponentially. And streaming services pay based on streamshare, not a per-stream rate.

    Because of streaming’s growth and the increase in engagement per user, the meaning of a million streams has changed over the years —  lots of tracks are reaching a million streams, and more often than you think. In fact, 550,000 songs have now surpassed a million streams, and 207,000 songs received a million streams in 2020 alone. Over a hundred songs have even reached a billion streams. To get a better sense of the Spotify ecosystem, you can play around with the interactive tool on this site, which reflects data as of December 2020.

  • I heard Spotify pays a fraction of a penny per stream. Is that true?

    In the streaming era, fans do not pay per song so we don’t believe a “per stream” rate is a meaningful number to analyze. Instead, we’re focused on maximizing the total size of the payments we are able to make to rights holders — those that pay artists and songwriters — and we think the data on this site reflects our progress.

    Still, we understand that artists find it useful to calculate an effective “per stream” rate — dividing the total size of the royalty pool on Spotify by the total number of music streams on Spotify. We dig into that in the “Why does the “per stream rate” appear lower for Spotify than some other streaming services?” question on this page.

    Our model drives more fan engagement and generates revenue from more places — that means larger total checks from Spotify to rights holders. We make some choices which decrease the effective “per stream rate”, but we believe we are maximizing overall revenue, generating the most possible money for rights holders and their artists and songwriters. Case in point, Spotify generates more money for rights holders than any other streaming service: As of 2020, Spotify has paid over $23 billion in royalties to rights holders — including over $5 billion in 2020 alone, up from $3.3 billion in 2017.

  • Why does the “per stream rate” appear lower for Spotify than some other streaming services?

    In the streaming era, fans do not pay per song and services do not pay per stream, so we don’t believe a “per stream rate” is a meaningful number to analyze. Still, we understand that artists find it useful to calculate an effective “per stream” rate or, in other words, a revenue-to-streams ratio — dividing the total size of the royalty pool on Spotify (the numerator) by the total number of music streams on Spotify (the denominator). Both of these numbers are growing incredibly quickly every year.

    There are a number of factors that contribute to that ratio looking small, which we understand can seem problematic. We don’t believe it is; we are confident our model is maximizing revenue for everyone.

    High Streams per Listener: First, the average subscriber to Spotify listens to more music per month than on other services. That means more listeners discovering more artists, more opportunities to deepen engagement with listeners, and more chances to convert them into fans who buy tickets and merch. This engagement — as well as millions of new Spotify listeners signing up every month — impacts the denominator of the revenue-to-streams ratio. 

    More Global Audience: Second, Spotify is more popular in countries with lower prices, which makes our revenue-to-streams ratio look lower compared to services not focused on those markets. Meeting listeners at an affordable price for them is the way to generate revenue from these markets that wouldn’t have been captured otherwise. Growing into these territories increases total revenue for the industry and for artists, which increases the size of the royalty pool for rights holders. This impacts the numerator of the ratio.  


    Ad-Supported Tier: Third, unlike most of our competitors, Spotify runs both a Premium subscription service and a free ad-supported service — so looking at Spotify’s revenue-to-streams ratio next to subscription-only competitors isn’t a direct comparison. While the ad-supported service doesn’t generate as much revenue as the Premium service per user, we’ve conducted extensive testing that consistently shows that when we take the free service away, those listeners turn to non-revenue-generating alternatives, meaning the collective music industry is missing out on revenue. This also impacts the numerator of the ratio. Offering an ad-supported service is also one of our most useful mechanisms for getting listeners to pay for music: roughly 60% of Premium subscribers were once Free tier users. Again, this means we are maximizing the revenue for everyone.

  • There are millions of artists on Spotify, yet only a small fraction are generating money. Shouldn’t a higher percentage of all artists on Spotify be making money?

    Our mission is focused on creating opportunities for professional artists to make a living through their work. While there are more than eight million creators on Spotify (including podcasters), not all of them have the same career aspirations in releasing music. For example, of all the artist profiles on Spotify, 5.6 million of them have released fewer than ten tracks. Many of these artists are likely to be hobbyists – those who make music for the sheer joy of it. But for those with professional ambitions, it’s important to note that the journey to success on Spotify almost always needs more than a few songs or just your first EP.

    There are 472,000 artists who have both a) released more than ten tracks on Spotify all-time; and b) had more than 1,000 monthly listeners across their catalog at any point in 2020.

    Like other creative fields, it’s no easy feat to create art that resonates with a wide audience. While the music industry may always consist of more people who want to be successful than end up being successful, streaming is undoubtedly growing and diversifying the number of artists who are finding success today — more so than any other time in the history of the music industry. Since 2017, the royalty pool paid to music rights holders from Spotify has grown by 50%, while the number of artists generating $10,000 or $50,000 has grown by more than 80% (from 22,900 and 7,300 to 42,100 and 13,400, respectively). That’s just from Spotify alone, which only represents about 20% of recorded music revenue and also does not include revenue sources like touring, merch, and sync. That means the number of artists achieving these levels is growing significantly faster than the overall size of the royalty pool, which we think is great for the industry and is enabling even more artists to make a living from music.

  • Why doesn’t Spotify just charge listeners more?

    Spotify persuaded listeners to pay a set price for music monthly, shifting fans away from piracy. The cost of a subscription is not an insignificant amount for many. Raising prices is a fine balance  — we don’t want to drive people back to piracy or unmonetized solutions.

    That said, Spotify is always evaluating pricing in each of our markets, and we’ve increased pricing in a number of them. Since Spotify and artists’ rights holders share in the same pool of money, our incentives are totally aligned: We both want to generate as much revenue from listeners and advertisers as possible.

    Over the years we have made a number of price increases in different markets around the world, and we will continue to do so when it makes sense, based on a variety of local and regional factors.

  • Isn’t Spotify’s mission statement overly ambitious?

    Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity — by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.

    The ambition of those numbers is intentional — billions of fans, a million artists — and serves as a constant reminder to us of just how massive we believe the music industry can grow to be.

    While we’re still working to achieve our mission, we’re more energized by it than ever, especially because the industry is shifting to benefit more and more artists. Back in 2002, roughly 30,000 new albums were released in the US. Only 8,000 albums represented 98% of sales of these new releases. In other words, a very limited few were reaching fans and able to build careers. 

    By comparison, in 2020, 1.8 million albums were released on Spotify in the US, and six times as many albums represented 98% of the streams for these releases. So not only do more artists have the opportunity to reach a global audience, more artists are being heard and establishing fanbases, which is the key to earning money.

  • How will Spotify achieve its mission?

    First, streaming is already the largest source of revenue in the recorded industry, and we intend to continue growing it by improving our service, expanding into new markets, and ultimately, attracting more listeners and advertisers. Our incentives are aligned: We make money when the music industry makes money. And we’ve been growing revenue fast: In 2019, Spotify accounted for about 20% of all recorded music revenue — up from less than 15% in 2017. 

    Second, a significant amount of the revenue Spotify makes is reinvested into building tools, resources, and opportunities for artists, songwriters, and the entire music industry — including our investments in personalization, playlisting, and editorial and marketing support, both on and off Spotify. Our goal is to help the industry harness the power of Spotify, drive discovery, and grow fanbases — so that they can earn more both on and off Spotify (through merch, sync, ticketing, etc.).

  • How is Spotify measuring payouts on this site? Why doesn’t this focus on what artists actually take home?

    We would love to report on the money that artists take home as a result of their Spotify performance — but we do not have insight into each individual artist’s and songwriter’s agreements with their chosen rights holders. We can only report the data that’s available to us, which is the amount of money that has left Spotify. 

    So the data on this site centers around the royalties generated — for both recording and publishing — that Spotify pays out to music rights holders. We look at each performing artist on Spotify and are reporting how much was paid to their rights holders across their full catalog for each calendar year.

    Spotify doesn’t pay artists directly — we pay rights holders selected by the artist, whether it’s a major label, independent label, aggregator, distributor, or otherwise. The vast majority of the most streamed music on Spotify is distributed by one of five major rights holders, while dozens of distributors and aggregators provide service to the independent artist community across all streaming platforms. You can check out more from our ‘How the Money Flows’ video here.

  • How can I put Streaming Numbers in Context for my home market?

    The Streaming Numbers in Context section of the site focuses on global figures for the sake of simplicity, but one useful indicator for how local stream counts stack up is to check out your local Spotify Chart. You’ll find that the amount of streams it takes to chart in different territories around the world can vary quite a bit. For example, what it takes to chart in Malaysia and Bulgaria can look pretty different from Australia and Mexico. Also, through Spotify for Artists, artists can view the geographic breakdown of their listeners (by city and by country) in the Audience tab of their dashboard.

  • Should the numbers you’re presenting around artists’ revenues be much higher?

    We’re focused on growing the total amount of money Spotify pays to artists’ and songwriters’ rights holders, so the data on this site focuses on one revenue source: Spotify royalties. We expect the growth rates shown on this site to continue — for example, the number of artists generating over $100,000 per year has grown by 85% from 2017 to 2020. 

    It’s important to remember that Spotify is just one of several music streaming services, representing about 20% of global recorded music revenue as of 2019. The numbers on this site do not account for revenue generated from other streaming services, physical sales, touring, merch, sync, or other sources. And Spotify can provide a multiplier effect — fanbases built on Spotify can be monetized by artists and their teams through these other revenue streams.

  • How much money does Spotify keep?

    Spotify’s share is roughly ⅓ of the revenue generated from subscription fees and advertising on music for the free tier. 

    And this is nothing new. Retailers have always taken a fee for their services  — historically an even higher cut. For example, near the height of the CD era, the retailer carried somewhere between 35 and 40% of the CD or cassette sold.

    We prioritize growth over profits, so our share is reinvested into building tools and services for artists, maintaining a quality product for listeners, and attracting more users to grow revenue from. These include everything from cloud computing and credit card fees to product updates and new technologies, to playlist development, experimenting with new ways for fans to engage with your music, and building tools and resources to help guide you through the process.

  • Would the user-centric model be more fair?

    The research we’ve seen to date suggests that a shift to user-centric payments would not benefit artists as much as many may have originally hoped — a study from the National Music Centre (CNM) found that the change would result in “at most a few euros per year on average” for artists outside the top 10,000. That research can be viewed here, and a useful summary of that research can be viewed here

    We are willing to make the switch to a user-centric model if that’s what artists, songwriters, and rights holders want to do. However, Spotify cannot make this decision on its own – it requires broad industry alignment to implement this change.

  • How can artists increase their number of listeners and streams?

    We want Spotify to be the most effective and valuable place for artists and their teams to grow their fanbase at every stage of their career. That’s why we’re building new tools for the more than one million artists who use Spotify for Artists each month. You can explore Spotify for Artists features here. Be sure to check out Artist Pick, Canvas, Promo Cards, Marquee, playlist pitching, Songwriter Pages, and more to help grow your fanbase.

    If you’re looking for tips, we’ve put together these promotional + engagement best practices and a guide to preparing for release day.

  • Spotify is spending millions on podcasts. Why isn’t the music industry seeing that money instead?

    What we invest in original and exclusive podcast content reflects the value we believe this content has in bringing new listeners into the Spotify ecosystem. 

    Our investments in original and exclusive podcasts have brought millions of new listeners into Spotify — listeners that stick around to stream music on Spotify, too, increasing the music royalty pool. All subscription fees paid by listeners go into the music royalty pool; podcasters are typically compensated by selling advertising within their podcast. 

    Also, we see music and talk being mutually beneficial — they’ve coexisted for years on formats like linear radio (AM/FM). We’re already experimenting with new ways to mix talk with royalty-bearing music that opens up new ways for listeners to dive deeper into the music they discover via podcasts. Some examples include playlists like Daily Drive, which creates a personalized commute experience, and formats like Music + Talk, which allow creators to pair their commentary and talk segments with songs on Spotify.

What Else?

Let us know what’s top of mind for you and what else would be helpful to know. We will add to the site based on your feedback so we look forward to hearing from you. 

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