Check out how much money dead composers would make from their most famous classical music pieces on Spotify today

Image Credit: Leipzig.Travel

If famous composers in the Classical period – like Mozart, Beethoven and Bach –were alive today, who would be the richest on Spotify?

How much money would the likes of Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy be making from streaming if they were still alive today, compared to top artists now? A fun experiment looks at the most popular classical music composers on Spotify and how their success would translate to 2021.

The Leipzig.Travel tourist site for Leipzig, the German city where Bach famously lived and worked, decided to work out how much classical composers would earn nowadays compared to the biggest artists of 2021. They multiplied monthly plays by an estimate of how much Spotify pays per stream.


Bach is the most popular classical composer on Spotify. His 6 million plays a month work out at a not-too-shabby $300,000 a year salary. That’s going on an estimate of $0.0037 per stream average, and adjusting for inflation. Pretty good for a guy living in the past. Back then, he was earning $28,000 per year.

Leipzig.Travel then took the idea and ran with it, looking at individual tracks by famous composers and how they compare to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” the biggest song on Spotify (nearly 3 billion plays, earning $10.4 million).

Bach’s most-streamed composition at the time was “Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude,” performed by Yo-Yo Ma, with over 162,000,000 plays on Spotify.

The Leipzig team worked out that Bach would earn $24,729,209 in 2021 from just that one tune on one streaming platform. That’s more than double Ed’s earnings. Basically, Bach would be a baller.

Back in the day (between 1809 and 1827) Beethoven, Spotify listener’s second most popular classical composer, was paid 4,000 florins a year ($100,000) by three patrons on the understanding that he wouldn’t ever move away from Vienna. That’s a pretty good salary, but in 2021 he’d be making $286,353 from Spotify streams of Paul Lewis-performed “Moonlight Sonata” alone, and would presumably be whiling away his days on a yacht on the French Riviera.

Here’s Leipzig.Travel’s list of famous classical composers on Spotify, and how much they’d make in 2021 (check out the full list here):

Image Credit: Leipzig.Travel

Looking for classical music distribution? RouteNote uploads classical music to all the major streaming platforms, including Spotify, for free. Release your compositions online today. Find out more here.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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