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Spotify Claims Record Earnings in 2023 for Indie Artists, Songwriters and Non-English-Language Songs


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Spotify has provided further details on the record $9 billion it paid out to the music industry in 2023, which was first announced in January.

For context, the company stated that the “amount has nearly tripled over the past six years, and represents a big part of the $48 billion-plus Spotify has paid since its founding.” Last March, the company said it pays out nearly 70% of every dollar it generates from music back to the industry, generating its music revenue from two sources: subscription fees from its Premium platform paying subscribers, and fees from advertisings on music on its Free tier. Those rights holders include record labels, publishers, independent distributors, performance rights organizations and collecting societies.

It is important to note that all such payments go to rights holders first — which is usually a record label0 — which take their fee or percentage and then pay the artists or songwriters their share. The artists’ and songwriters’ shares of their total earnings from streaming are determined by their deals with those rights holders — not by streaming services.

In Tuesday’s announcement on its Loud & Clear website, the company says:

* The number of artists generating at least $1,000,000, $100,000 and $10,000 all have nearly tripled since 2017 — and those earnings are from Spotify alone.

  Number of artists in 2017… Number of artists in 2023…
….generating more than $10k (or $40K overall) 23,400  66,000 
….generating more than $100k (or $400K overall) 4,300  11,600 
….generating more than $1M (or $4M overall) 460  1,250 

* In an encouraging sign for non-major label artists, DIY artists and those signed to independent labels generated nearly $4.5 billion on Spotify — the first year the category accounted for approximately half of the total. It represents a four-times increase from 2017 and is the highest amount indies have ever generated from a single retailer in one year, the streamer states.

* The company also stated that more than half of the 66,000 artists who generated at least $10,000 on Spotify are from countries where English is not the first language. Spanish, German, Portuguese, French, and Korean were the leaders in non-English language music, while Hindi, Indonesian, Punjabi, Tamil, and Greek all saw “huge upticks” in 2023.

* In a highly contentious issue — songwriters receive a very small percentage of the income from streaming — Spotify says it paid out $4 billion to publishing rights holders (who represent songwriters) over the last two years. That category includes “publishers, performance rights organizations, and collecting societies that represent songwriters,” according to the announcement, which also states that those entities “are seeing more than 2x the revenue ($5.5B in 2022) in the streaming era than they ever had in the CD/sales era ($2.5B in 2001), per the Global Value of Music Copyright.”

* Surprisingly, some 80% of the more than 1,250 artists who generated at least $1 million on Spotify in 2023 did not have a hit song, which it defines as a track that reached the Top 50 of Spotify’s Daily Global Songs chart. It notes that those 1,000-plus artists aren’t veterans like the Rolling Stones — a majority of the artists them started their careers in 2010 or later. It also details that “artists can start approaching $1 million per year with around 4-5 million monthly listeners or 20-25 million monthly streams.” 

For other details see Spotify’s latest “Loud & Clear” post.

Spotify remains by far the world’s largest paid music-streaming service, with the U.S. its biggest territory. In January, it announced that in the fourth quarter of 2023 it added 28 million total monthly active users overall, to reach 602 million, and gained 10 million Premium subscribers to stand at 236 million.

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