What is the pay rate for Spotify streams?

How much does the most popular music streaming service pay on average per stream and why it’s more complicated than a single figure.

Thousands of artists around the world rely on Spotify to earn a living, especially as live music venues closed their doors last year during the pandemic. While we’ve seen a resurgence in vinyl recently, the ease of access to tens of millions of songs on your phone means streaming is here to stay.

Spotify launched Loud and Clear earlier this year. The site aims to help listeners and artists understand the economics of music streaming. What Loud and Clear doesn’t show however is how much each stream pays, but there’s good reason for this. Many sites will claim to have calculated the rate, but will all show different answers depending on their sources. The first thing to know is that if you stream a song one time, this will not equal an exact amount for the artist, that’s just not how music streaming works.

The payout rate for artists varies on many factors such as what major labels have negotiated with Spotify and how many total streams Spotify receives in a month. The biggest variables are how and where the listener streamed the song. In most countries, Spotify has two key tiers: Spotify Premium where users pay a subscription fee per month for unlimited ad-free access to all music and Spotify Free where users get limited access to ad-supported music. Typically, Premium members contribute more to the payout rate than Free members, as advertising can not sustain a similar monthly rate. In the US Spotify Premium costs $9.99 per month, while in India for example, Spotify Premium subscriptions are ₹129 (roughly $1.73) per month. Divide this amount among the 1,000 songs per month you may listen to and it’s understandable how the artist is left with a fraction of a penny. Advertising levels in India are likewise lower than the US.

In August, Hypebot calculated the average per-stream payout from indie artists between $0.003 and $0.005. Soundcharts have put together charts that detail rough per-stream rates across platforms and different genres of artists, as well as the monthly cost of Spotify Premium in various markets.

How can I as an artist earn a liveable wage in 2021? Alongside music streaming, artists should look into other revenue sources such as selling tickets and merchandise. To maximise streaming, you must ensure you are across all top platforms around the world and working independently of unfair royalty cuts from labels. RouteNote gives independent artists the tools they need to succeed online, with free distribution to all major platforms.

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