Music Business

Spotify reports 40% rise in 2021 payouts, updates Loud & Clear streaming stats

Spotify has updated it’s Loud & Clear microsite sharing payouts and other topline figures. While the stats should be viewed through the lense of Spotify PR, they also offer important insights.

Total Spotify payments to the music industry (artists, labels, songwriters, music publishers) rose 40% from $5 billion in 2020 to $7 billion in 2021, the highest annual payment from any single music “retailer” in history.

That translates to Spotify paying the music industry about 66% of total revenues of $10.6 billion 2021 – down slightly from previous years. Spotify has now paid out a total of $30 billion since launching in 2006.

How did artists do?

  • For the first time, over 1,000 artists generated over $1 million on Spotify.
  • 50,000+ artists generated $10,000 from Spotify
  • 5000+ of artists who generated at least $10,000 in 2021 released their first song ever in the last two years. 350 generated over $100,000 in 2021 from Spotify alone.
  • Over 28% of artists who generated over $10,000 self-distribute to Spotify. (Spotify estimates that $10K from them translates to about $40K from all streaming services combined.)
  • 34% of artists who generated more than $10,000 on Spotify live in countries outside the top ten music markets

CEO Daniel EK on Streaming vs Physical Sales

Working to counter one of the main arguments against streaming – that it’s replaced physical music sales with less lucrative streaming payouts to artists – CEO Daniel EK made the case that streaming payouts are more democratic.

“In the CD era, 25% of all sales went to the top 50 artists'” argued Ek “On Spotify that number has now been halved – with only 12% coming from the top 50.”

“Just like the hyper-competitive worlds of film or sports, it’s difficult to make it in music. I get that,” Ek continued. “But the figures we’re sharing show that Spotify is improving on the music industry of the past, and more and more artists are able to stand out in the streaming era.”

Repeating the caveat that “Loud & Clear” is well packaged PR, there is a lot to dig into and learn from in the full report here.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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