Only 19% of artists on Spotify had over 1,000 monthly listeners in 2023

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MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by music data analytics firm Chartmetric.

The music streaming business is changing. New thresholds coming into effect at Spotify this quarter aim to tackle streaming fraud and the dilution of streaming royalties between high and low-quality content.

Inspired by Universal Music Group‘s ‘artist-centric’ streaming strategy, Spotify’s new rules see ‘premium’ artists and ‘premium’ content financially prioritized over so-called low-quality tracks and creator accounts with low engagement.

Amongst those rules are that tracks on Spotify must have reached at least 1,000 streams in the previous 12 months in order to generate royalties on the platform.

To put into perspective just how many tracks will be impacted by this change, Luminate recently reported in its 2023 Year-End Music Report that 158.6 million of them each received 1,000 or fewer plays on audio streaming services in 2023.

Another rule coming into effect this quarter at Spotify? As MBW has previously pointed out, there will also be a minimum number of unique listeners required for a track to become eligible for royalty payouts.

Now, Spotify is yet to publicly share what this number actually is – in order, it says, “to prevent bad actors from gaming the system”.

Yet, in light of these changes, new stats published by social and streaming data company Chartmetric offer a bit of insight into the statistical realities for the vast majority of artists on the Spotify platform.

According to new figures published in Chartmetric’s Year in Music report for 2023 (which you can read in full here),  only 19.16% of artists on Spotify had over one thousand monthly listeners in 2023.

To flip that stat on its head, around 81% of artists on Spotify had fewer than 1,000 monthly listeners in 2023, according to Chartmetric’s data.

Only two artists — Taylor Swift and The Weeknd — have ever surpassed 100 million monthly listeners, a milestone that both artists hit for the first time in 2023.

Chartmetric tracks 9,753,156 artists on Spotify (who have a combined total of 65.8 billion monthly listeners and 21.6 billion followers).

This means that, according to Chartmetric’s reported monthly listener stats for Spotify for 2023, approximately 7.9 million artists on the streaming platform had fewer than 1,000 monthly listeners in 2023, while just over 1.8 million had more than 1,000 monthly listeners on the platform last year.

Spotify’s monthly listener count represents each unique individual who has streamed an artist’s music at least once in the last 28 days.

Therefore, even if an individual listener streams a song over and over again within the last 28 days they’re only counted once as a monthly listener.

France-based Spotify rival Deezer also introduced its own UMG-endorsed artist-centric payout model in September. The model also includes a minimum unique listener threshold, which has been set at 500 in a month.

Deezer‘s model sees “professional artists” – defined as those who have a minimum of 1,000 streams per month and a minimum of 500 unique listeners – receive a so-called “double boost” to royalty payments.

When Deezer calculates an artist’s royalty payments, streams of that artist’s music will carry double the weight versus streams of ‘non-professional’ artists (those with fewer than 1,000 streams per month by a minimum of 500 unique listeners).

Again, we don’t know what Spotify’s minimum unique listener threshold is, but for complete argument’s sake, if Spotify were ever to set its minimum number of unique listeners as (the unlikely but not improbable number of) double that of Deezer’s – so a minimum of 1,000 monthly listeners – a lot of artists on Spotify would not be eligible to generate royalties.

Chartmetric’s new report also highlights the glut of music content making its way into the world and the oversaturation of music on streaming services.

According to Chartmetric, over 7.6 million tracks were released in 2023 alone, contributing to a total of 17.2 million ingested into Chartmetric‘s system.

Chartmetric notes that, to put this into perspective, it would take you 117 years to listen to all that ingested music, and 42 of those years would be spent on music released in 2023 alone.

Chartmetric reports that artists on Spotify have uploaded a combined 871.78 years’ worth of music to the platform to date.

Chartmetric is the all-in-one platform for artists and music industry professionals, providing comprehensive streaming, social, and audience data for everyone to create successful careers in music.Music Business Worldwide

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