The competition is 225K, not 10M artists + More Spotify Loud & Clear report takeaways

Spotify has updated its annual Loud & Clear report to remind artists and labels how much money they make from the streaming platform. While many of the numbers are impressive, a careful reading leads to more nuanced, particularly of independent and D.I.Y. artists.

For example, while 10 million artists have tracks on Spotify, as the stats below shows 225,000 “emerging and professional artists” are actually “building careers” on Spotify, and just 50,000 earned $16,500 or more there last year.

We already know that indie musicians account for about 50% of the $9 billion in royalties that Spotify generated last year.

But now we know a lot more about who earned that $4.5 billion, which was a 4X increase over 2017.

5 Takeaways for Independent Musicians from Spotify’s Loud & Clear Report

  1. The competition is 225,000 artists, NOT 10 million: Spotify says that while 10M uploaders had at least one track, 8M had fewer than ten tracks. 5M acts had less than 100 total streams across their full catalog last year.
    • “Sure, more than 10 million uploaders have at least a single track on Spotify,” says the streamer. “but when it comes to building financial opportunities, we’re focused on those most dependent on streaming as part of their livelihood.”
    • That’s 225,000 “emerging and professional artists that are building careers.” This number of “professional artists” is mirrored by data from Sptotify’s new live show listing partner, Bandsintown, who showed that a similar number played live last year.
  2. The Streaming Opportunity: A radio station spins the top 40 tracks, and a record store carries the music of a few thousand artists. But in 2023, 50K artists generated at least $16.5K from Spotify.
    • “The overwhelming majority of artists on Spotify wouldn’t have had music on the shelf in the CD era…. even the 50,000th in rank generated at minimum $16,500 from Spotify alone.”
  3. Artist Growth: Of the 23,400 artists who generated $10,000 in 2017, nearly half generated more than $50,000 in 2023 and likely $200,000 across all recorded revenue sources. 
    • Four out of five artists who generated at least $10,000 in 2017 generated at least that much this past year.
  4. 3X More Artists Earned Significant Revenue: The number of artists generating revenues at every threshold – from $1,000 to $10,000 to $100,000 through $10 million per year – has nearly tripled since 2017.
    • It’s important to also remember that these figures represent revenue generated from Spotify alone. When taking into account earnings from other sources, they likely generated 4x this from recorded music sources overall, plus additional revenue from concerts and merch. Of course, this is all before cuts are taken by distributors, labels, managers, agents, other band members, and more.
  5. Hits Matter Less: Many of the artists who generated at least $1M on Spotify in 2023 aren’t household names and didn’t need a “hit” song to have a big year. 80% didn’t have a song reach the Top 50 of Spotify’s Daily Global Songs chart. (Spotify understandably did not name these streaming millionaires.)
    • In the streaming era, the charts aren’t big enough to contain all of the artists finding success. Fans’ tastes are more diverse, and the royalty pool is growing, which means more revenue to a wider range of artists.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a Berklee College Of Music professor.

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