Spotify claims 1,040 artists earned $1M+ from streams in 2021

Photo credit: Haithem Ferdi

Spotify has officially claimed that over 1,000 artists have earned over $1 million each from streams on the platform in 2021.

The Stockholm-based service disclosed this and other notable numbers in its recently updated Loud & Clear resource (for 2021). According to the voluminous document – ​​which asserts upfront that “Spotify has paid more than $30 billion in royalties to the music industry,” including north of $7 billion in 2021 – last year, catalogs of 1,040 artists have earned more than $1 million each through “recording and publishing royalties” on Spotify.

This total represents an increase of 180 from 2020 (which provided $1M+ to 860 artists) and 320 from 2019 (720 artists), according to the analysis. Spotify also reported that the work of 130 artists generated more than $5 million in 2021 (up from 100 in 2020).

Meanwhile, 450 artists earned at least $2 million in royalties on the platform (up from 360) in 2021, Spotify said, compared to 2,170 artists earning $500,000 (up from 1,800), 9,500 earning $100,000 (vs. 7,800), 16,500 for $50,000 (vs. 1,800). 13,400), 52,600 for $10,000 (from 42,500), 81,500 for $5,000 (from 67,700) and 203,300 for $1,000 (from 186,600).

Next, the multi-faceted breakdown dives into a description of Spotify’s royalty system – which is “based on an artist’s share of all streams on the platform” as opposed to actual fan engagement. . (Of course, that last perk works with highly dedicated fanbases but not billions of streams.)

Included with said description is a tool that calculates artist and song rankings for an entered monthly listener or total stream, respectively. For example, entering 1,000,000 all-time streams into said tool reveals that a song with the number of plays “would be in the top 719,000 tracks on Spotify globally.” Similarly, “1,000,000 monthly listeners would be among the top 9,000 artists on Spotify globally”.

Keeping in mind Spotify’s focus on current payout totals and ultra-high song playback volumes, a three-minute video then highlights streaming (and Spotify’s role in it) while reiterating the nuances of platform payouts. An artist definition section (“toppers”, “DIY”, etc.), an “industry background” page focused on editing, a bunch of articles involving “tips for songwriters and beginning producers” and “additional resources” still follow.

Just in case this tidal wave of information wasn’t enough, Spotify – which has come under fire for its royalty rate per stream as well as its non-music spend – closed the article with some 4,400 words of answers to questions like “Does streaming only help music’s biggest stars?” and “Would the user-centric model be more equitable?”

This installment of Loud & Clear 2021 (and a concise summary at the start) covers interesting topics such as:

The major labels

Spotify noted that the three major labels – Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music – “made more than $4 billion in profits in 2021, thanks to streaming”.

Self-Distributing Artists

“Many artists use distributors like DistroKid, TuneCore, CD Baby or others to self-publish their music on Spotify – and more than ever, it’s paid off.

“28% of artists who reached $10,000 in revenue on Spotify released music through an artist distributor in 2021,” the platform said. “These 15,140 artists represent a 171% increase since 2017.”

Revenues from new artists – and the continued reach of catalog releases

“Over 10% of artists (5,300) who generated more than $10,000 on Spotify in 2021 released their very first song within the past two years. In 2021, 350 of them have generated $100,000 from Spotify alone.

The Earning Potential of Artists Outside of Major Music Markets

“Of the 52,600 artists who generated more than $10,000 on Spotify in 2021, 34% live in countries outside of IFPI’s top ten music markets,” the company said.

The Specifics of New Spotify Music Downloads and Artists

“For example, of the eight million people who distributed songs to Spotify, 5.4 million of them released less than ten tracks all-time.”

(This stat is particularly interesting because Spotify head Daniel Ek previously said, “I think by 2025 we could have up to 50 million creators on our platform.”)

Possible Spotify Price Increases

“The cost of a subscription is not an insignificant amount for many. Raising the price is a fine balance – we don’t want to drive people back to hacking or non-monetized solutions. »

A potential pivot to a fan-powered royalty model – like Tidal and SoundCloud

“The research we’ve seen to date suggests that a shift to user-centric payments would not benefit artists as much as many had originally hoped.

“We’re ready to move to a user-centric model if that’s what artists, songwriters and rights holders want to do. However, Spotify cannot make this decision alone; broad industry alignment is needed to implement this change.

Spotify revenue from legacy artists and catalog music

“On this site, we spotlight heritage artists – which we define as an average of over 500,000 monthly listeners with 80% of their streams coming from tracks over five years old. This band averaged $473,000 from Spotify alone in 2021 (and likely well over $1 million across all streaming services).

Spotify’s ‘millions’ in podcast investments

“Our investments in original and exclusive podcasts have brought millions of new listeners to Spotify – listeners who also stick around to stream music on Spotify, increasing the music royalty pool.”

Victor L. Jones