Spotify just released a stat that changes everything about how we judge the streaming economy
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Welcome to the latest episode of Talking Trends, the weekly podcast from Music Business Worldwide (MBW) – where we dig deep into the headlines of news affecting the entertainment industry. Talking Trends is supported by Voly Music.
This week on Talking Trends (listen here), MBW founder Tim Ingham responds to a new set of stats released by Spotify on what artists earn on its platform
These statistics, published on Spotify’s Loud & Clear site, reveal that 16,500 artists generated more than $50,000 in royalties from Spotify in 2021.
But Ingham argues that wasn’t the most revealing piece of data released by Spotify.
Instead, it focuses on a number buried at the bottom of the Loud & Clear site: Spotify estimates that around 200,000 artists on its platform are “professional or aspiring”.
Spotify partly estimated this “professional artist” figure, Ingham explains, via two key questions.
The first one: How many of the 8 million artists on the Spotify platform have released less than 10 titles to date?
The answer might surprise you: it is 5.4 millioni.e. a little over two thirds of the artists in the service.
Spotify then calculated how many 2.6 million artists on its platform with more than 10 tracks are popular enough to also have more 10,000 monthly listeners.
Fair 165,000 acts.
Furthermore, Spotify estimated that 199,000 artists sold a ticket for a live concert in 2019 (before the pandemic) through Songkick, Ticketmaster and other platforms.
This is how Spotify arrives at its estimate of 200,000 artists on its service who are “professional or aspiring”.
Ingham argues on MBW Telling trends podcast: “To put it a bit more cruelly, 98% from 8000000 artists on Spotify today aren’t popular enough to have 10,000 monthly listeners, or have released less than 10 titles to date.
He adds: “Spotify’s own statistics show that 0.2% of [the 8 million] the artists on its platform generate $50,000 or more per year. As a standalone statistic, 0.2% sounds like a scandal.
“But now we can move this [narrative] on, and ask what percentage of truly “professional or aspiring” artists – this club of 200,000 – generate more $50,000 a year on Spotify.
“And I’ll tell you: it’s just over 8%. Eight percent – or roughly one in 12 – artists considered “professional or aspiring” by Spotify now generate more $50,000 dollars on this platform per year.
“Is eight percent enough? Do 1 in 12 commercially savvy artists generate $50,000 a year on Spotify a positive or a negative?
“Let this debate rage. But let it rage with the key information that the vast majority of artists on Spotify – 5.4 millionthat’s more than two-thirds of all acts on the platform – haven’t even released enough tracks to fill an album.
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