Nearly a third of artists earning over $10,000 on Spotify released music through an artist distributor in 2021

Nearly a third of artists earning over $10,000 on Spotify released music through an artist distributor in 2021

New data around independent artists on Spotify from Loud & Clear

Image Credit: Spotify

These 15,150 leading artists using distribution services represent a 171% increase since 2017. Plus more stats from Spotify’s updated site.

After Spotify were increasingly criticized for low artist payout rates and a lack of transparency around royalties on the music streaming platform, last year we saw the launch of Loud & Clear. The website was designed to increase clarity around the economics of music streaming and highlight the success thousands of artists have found on Spotify.

Yesterday, Spotify’s Loud & Clear site was updated with 2021’s royalty data, showing us how more artists than ever are making more money than ever before on Spotify and across streaming. From this data we can gain a broad idea of how many artists around the world are making a living on Spotify. Head to Loud & Clear for full details, more numbers, interactive tools, publishing info, tips, resources, FAQs and a letter from CEO Daniel Ek.

Music matters. To the world and to Spotify. It’s where we started and what continues to inspire us as we build the most valuable platform for artists. We’re nowhere near done.

Daniel Ek, CEO, Spotify

Alongside the updated site, we got an article from Spotify on their “Top 10 Takeaways on the Economics of Music Streaming and 2021 Royalty Data”. Point eight highlights the success of artists using distributors like us! As you go through the points below don’t forget that Spotify are just one music streaming service and streaming services only make up a portion of all industry revenues, with additional sources available to artists, like physical sales, touring, merch and sync.

To maximise your revenue earned on Spotify and all other major music streaming services, choose RouteNote for free distribution, 100% of the rights to your music and a Premium option that lets artists keep 100% of the revenue stores pay.

1. Spotify paid out over $7 billion to rights holders last year, up from $5 billion 2020. This amount is more than double that paid out in 2017 ($3.3 billion) and is part of the $30 billion paid since Spotify’s founding. Even after adjusting for inflation, $7 billion total is the largest sum ever paid out by one retailer to the music industry in one year, including at the height of the CD or digital download era.

2. In 2021, recorded streaming revenue alone (across all services) was higher than the entire industry’s revenue from all forms of recorded music for each year from 2009 through 2016. In 2014 the music industry hit its low point, generating $14.2 billion from all parts of recorded industry (streaming, physical sales, sync, downloads, performance rights). Last year, streaming revenue alone exceeded $16.9 billion, with Spotify leading the way.

3. Spotify hit a new landmark in 2021. Over 1,000 artists generated at least $1 million on Spotify alone. Because of this, Spotify launched two new milestones on Loud & Clear.

  • $2 million – 450 artists, an increase of 110% in five years
  • $5 million – 130 artists, an increase of 160% in five years

4. More artists are hitting milestones across all revenue levels, from $10,000 to $5 million. The number of artists who achieved each of these milestones are accelerating fast and have doubled since 2017. When taking into account earnings from other services and recorded revenue streams, artists are likely to be generating 4x these amounts. More than 50,000 artists generated $10,000 from Spotify. This figure is likely over $40,000 across all recorded revenue sources.

5. Over the past year, almost all of Spotify’s music partners reported record profit and growth for their artists. The three major record labels brought in over $25 billion in revenue last year. Around half of which (at $12.5 billion) came from streaming recorded revenue alone. Spotify represents around a third of that total at over $4 billion.

6. Songwriters and producers are generating record revenue driven by streaming services. Publishing rights holders earned $3.5 billion from streaming overall in 2020. This is more than publishing revenue from CDs and downloads any year in the 21st century, even during the peak of the CD era.

7. More artists are sharing in today’s thriving music economy than ever before. In the peak of the CD era, nearly 25% of U.S. album sales were acounted for by the top 50 artists. On Spotify in 2021, only 12% of U.S. streams were of the top 50 artists. This shows revenue opportunities now reach beyond the superstars.

8. Many artists use distributors like us to self-release their music on Spotify. 28% of artists who reached $10,000 in earnings on Spotify released through an artist distributor in 2021. These 15,150 artists represent a 171% increase since 2017.

9. Music streaming has lowered the barriers to entry to music and accelerated the path to finding a global fan base. Artists can go from first single to first significant paycheck fast! Over 10% of artists (5,300) who generated more than $10,000 on Spotify in 2021, released their first song ever in the last two years. 350 of them generated over $100,000 from Spotify alone.

10. Streaming revenue is bringing real scale to the music industries of emerging markets. Its increasingly possible to pursue a professional career as an artist in any country around the world. In 2021, Spotify launched in over 80 new markets, which introduced all artists on the platform to new fans, in new places, all over the world. Of the 52,600 artists that generated more than $10,000 in 2021, 34% live in countries outside of the IFPI’s top ten music markets (Australia, Canada, China, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the U.K., and the U.S.).

When showing how many artists fit into a revenue bracket, Spotify duplicate artists across groups. For example an artist that earns over $100,000 is also counted in the groups below: $50,000, $10,000 etc. Music Business Worldwide has broken down the stats of the last two years to show how many artists fell within each bracket through pie charts.

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