How Much Does Spotify Pay Musicians? Now We Really Know

Categories: Tech

Relative-fig-est.jpg
Spotify's graph of album earnings in July 2013 versus earnings when the service reaches 40 million paying subscribers.
In a move aimed at quelling criticism from the likes of Thom Yorke, David Byrne, David Lowery, and many other musicians, Spotify today launched a new website that gives specific figures on what the streaming service pays artists.

They are... not high.

The company protests that looking at per-song revenues is a "really flawed way of thinking" about artist pay: "It's not the way we pay or the way our model is built," Mark Williamson, director of artist services, told the UK Guardian. (And indeed, actual Spotify earnings are based on an artist's individual royalty rate, the country in which their music is streamed, the percentage of paid users out of total users, and other factors.) Nonetheless, Spotify reports that the average artist's pay for one streamed track right now is between 0.6 cents and 0.8 cents. In other words, less than one penny.

The new Spotify Artists website also gives specific figures on what certain, nameless albums earned in July 2013. A "niche indie album," whatever that is, earned $3,300. A "breakthrough indie album" earned $76,000. A "global hit album" earned $425,000, according to the site.

Even Spotify acknowledges that this isn't what it hopes to pay artists. In graphs, it contrasts the above figures with what the company says it will pay when it reaches 40 million paying users. Under that scenario, the "niche indie album" would earn $17,000 a month, while a "global hit album" would bring in $2,100,000.

Spotify points to a number of other factors in its defense: That Spotify streams earn more for artists than plays on a "video streaming service" (read: YouTube) or a "radio streaming service" (read: Pandora), or on U.S. terrestrial radio. That the Spotify premium customer spends far more per year ($120 versus $55) than the average paying U.S. listener. That the company has paid out over $1 billion in royalties, including $500 million in 2013 alone.

Of course, nothing Spotify released today will end the debate over its place in the rapidly changing music industry. But at least we now have real, hard numbers to argue with.

[UK Guardian]

-- @iPORT



My Voice Nation Help
13 comments
Jamie Burwood
Jamie Burwood

If you are counting on Spotify royalties alone to "make it" you should really reevaluate your hustle. You sell merch, you tour ALOT, you network, you hustle....that's how you make money in the beginning. Spotify is a great way for unknown/ unsigned artists to get their music out to millions of people without paying a label/manager etc. the exposure Spotify/Pandora/soundcloud and the like provide is invaluable to new artists.

Michael Harms
Michael Harms

I'm afraid to say it but all hail you Mr. Lars Ulrich of Metallica. You had it right since day one with your campaign against naps yet etc. Now were here. Wow

Michael Harms
Michael Harms

Criminals. The average artist gets paid .29cents per sale of one song. That's after everyone gets their cut and let's not forget remixers too. People have no idea how it is to make it happen. Spotify is just one part of what's wrong with the music landscape

Michael Harms
Michael Harms

As a Label we opted out. But in the beginning you had no choice. Your music just winded up there

Ryan Burt
Ryan Burt

It's kind of hard to evaluate without knowing what royalties are from all other listening sources, which the article does not provide. I would be curious to know how this compares to radio station royalties - although with spotify you have to factor into scale I would think, they are much more scalable than KEXP for example (well, at least in theory). But that aside, 76k/month for a Breakthrough Indie Album seems not so bad to me? Esp if we are still fairly early on the adoption curve? I would assume a breakthrough means that income could flow in for 6-12 months? 76k x 9 months seems pretty good. But what do I know? Just seems like Spotify has done more good than bad - and that list of people complaining are not really "upstart" musicians are they?

Miles Gutkin
Miles Gutkin

Interesting. Jay weren't we just talking about this? How can this even be true?

Dub Gabriel
Dub Gabriel

Fuck Spotify! They are trying to get more subscribers by saying they would pay out their artist better if they had 40 mil subscribers. Also, the rates are much lower for Indy labels then the majors, with indy's getting .4 of a cent. The sound quality is crap. The only person who had hurt the music industry worst then Spotify is Steve Jobs.

Lady Bear
Lady Bear

who makes a bar graph with two very similar shades of the same color?

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Drink

San Francisco Event Tickets
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...