Nearly 80% of artists on Spotify have fewer than 50 monthly listeners

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MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a single data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by Cinq Music Group, a technology-driven record label, distribution, and rights management company.

There is an ocean of music on Spotify that is a very long way from being popular.

Last month, MBW dug around on Spotify’s newly-updated Loud & Clear site to ascertain how many of the 8 million artists on SPOT had released fewer than 10 tracks in their lifetime on the platform.

The answer? Over two-thirds, or 67%.

This got us thinking: if Spotify is awash with artists who have infrequently released music… then how many artists on Spotify have released music that is being infrequently listened to?

Back we went, notepad in hand, to Spotify’s Loud & Clear site.

Spotify created Loud & Clear to offer transparent numbers to artists regarding their own careers. It features a very helpful ‘popularity calculator’.

This nifty widget (see below) reveals something very useful: how many tracks and/or artists on Spotify have surpassed certain levels of lifetime streams and/or monthly listeners.

Loud & Clear’s ‘popularity calculator’ (our descriptor)

Into this ‘popularity calculator’, we plonked a simple inquiry: the number of artists on Spotify with more than X monthly listeners, where X monthly listeners is the minimum number the Loud & Clear site would permit.

That minimum number was 35 (the ‘popularity calculator’ won’t accept anything smaller). So we ran that – as well as 50, 100, and 1,000.

The results were… really something.

As you can see below, just 1.73 million artists on Spotify currently have more than 50 monthly listeners.

As previously noted (again, thanks to the updated Loud & Clear site), there are around 8 million artists with music on Spotify in total today.

So it’s a simple mathematical maneuver to conclude that just 21.6% of artists on Spotify today – around 1.7 million of them – have a monthly audience on the platform greater than 50 people.

Or, yup, to put it another way: Nearly 80% (78.4%) of artists on Spotify today – around 6.3 million of them – have a monthly audience on the platform smaller than 50 people.

That’s a lot of hobbyists.

This is a rather enlightening set of statistics, for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, it brings yet more perspective to the debate around the streaming economy – especially the teeny percentage (0.2%) of the 8 million artists on Spotify who are generating $50k-plus a year from the platform.

In addition, it makes you wonder how much money loss-making Spotify must be burning each year simply to host oodles of music/artists that a handful of people – at best – are actually listening to.

(A clue: In Spotify’s 2021 annual report, it noted that it saw “an [annual] increase in information technology costs of EUR €33 million due to increase[s] in our usage of cloud computing services and additional software license fees”.)

Sadly, Spotify’s Loud & Clear won’t let us dig any deeper on the monthly listeners question, to discover, for example, how many artists on SPOT have flat-out-zero listeners each month.

However, one thing the site does allow us to do is to run similar numbers to the above, but in terms of music tracks on Spotify, and how many lifetime streams they have accumulated.

Spotify logo

Before we get into these numbers, it’s worth knowing this: According to Spotify’s annual report for 2021, there were “over 82 million” tracks in SPOT’s catalog at the close of last year.

The same annual report notes, however, that this number included “more than 3.6 million podcast titles”.

From that, we can estimate that – at the close of 2021, at least – there were approximately 78.4 million music tracks on Spotify.

Now let’s look at the play-count numbers.

The lowest figure Loud & Clear will allow us to punch into this part of its ‘popularity calculator’ is 101 – i.e. we can discover how many music tracks within the approximate 78.4 million available on Spotify have more than 101 plays.

This number comes out at 60.86 million.

(Note: When it comes to play-counts, Loud & Clear’s figures are based on end-of-2021 data, and only relate to music content.)

This means that nearly a quarter of tracks on Spotify today – approximately 22.4%, or 17.5 million of them – have been played fewer than 101 times since Spotify launched in 2008.

Things get really interesting, though, when we move up our play-count threshold number (see above).

For example: According to Loud & Clear, some 38.69 million tracks on Spotify have been played more than 500 times to date.

This means that more than half (51%) of the 78.4 million music tracks on Spotify have been played fewer than 500 times.

And what of tracks that have been played fewer than 1,000 times to date? What percentage of Spotify’s music catalog do these tracks comprise?

Some 60.8%.

Last one: No less than 79.1% of music tracks on Spotify – nearly four in every five – have been played fewer than 5,000 times.

Oscar Wilde is famously credited with having written: “Popularity is the one insult I have never suffered.”

Spotify’s data suggests that the majority of artists who’ve ever uploaded tracks to its platform – the vast majority, in fact – remain similarly fortuitous.

Cinq Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy awards, dozens of Gold and Platinum RIAA certifications, and numerous No.1 chart positions on a variety of Billboard charts. Its repertoire includes heavyweights such as Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, T.I., Sean Kingston, Anuel, and hundreds more.Music Business Worldwide

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