YouTube has surpassed the milestone of 50 million YouTube Music and Premium subscribers, growing its subscriber base by around 20 million in the past 11 months, or around 1.8m subscribers per month since October 2020, MBW reports on the music stat. YouTube's biggest rival Spotify's global Premium Subscriber base grew to 165 million in Q2 2021, which was up 20% year-on-year. Apple Music in June 2019 announced it had surpassed 60 million subscribers.

Spotify's Premium Subscriber base grew to 165 million in the second quarter of 2021, which was up 20% year-on-year. The company’s total global monthly active users grew 22% year-on-year to 365 million in Q2 2021. Spotify’s Premium subscriber growth translated into revenue of €2.056 billion in Q2. That's big numbers, there are some small numbers, on which everything depends really - the firm’s average monthly revenue per subscriber landed at €4.29 in Q2. Music Business Worldwide takes a closer look at the numbers.

"There's good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, but there isn't good payola and bad payola. There's just payola" - Music REDEF's Matty Karas argues about Spotify's Discovery Mode, which allows indie artists to chose which songs they want to be played more on the streaming service, in return for a lower royalty rate. "If major labels have a built-in advantage on Spotify playlists, another way to put indie artists on an equal playing field would be to allow them to single out tracks for playlist consideration and *not* charge them for it. Call it Discovery Mode and don't change a thing about it except the price" - Karas points out. Two law professors on Billboard argue it's not really band kind, whereas Future of Music Coalition sees it through the lens of payola.

Spotify announced its new Fresh Finds program, which will spotlight indie musicians in marketing campaigns and equip them with a variety of educational tools, Music Ally reports. The program is a spin-off of the Fresh Finds playlist, which has added more than 25,000 emerging artists since its launch five years ago. In 2021, about half of the artists added to the playlist previously had fewer than 21,000 monthly listeners, but the average artist sees their listens increase by 108% in the month after being playlist, according to Spotify. The first four Fresh Finds program artists are Wallice, Unusual Demont, Julia Wolf, and EKKSTACY. For now, the Fresh Finds program is U.S.-only, but Spotify is expanding the reach of the Fresh Finds playlists, adding new regional versions in 13 territories including the U.K., South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as other parts of Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Slate tracked down imposters using famous artists' names to attract listeners on Spotify, without even trying too hard to hide what they're doing. There was a Diana Ross who didn't look anything alike to the "real" Diana Ross, the age didn't match, music neither, and the artist was actually connected to Philippines-based record label Star Music. Electric Light Orchestra is the English 70s band, with the same name co-opted by an autotune-happy rapper. DJ Quik suddenly on Spotify started rapping in Spanish, and wasn't willing to show his face either. This happens a lot on Spotify, Slate argues.

Numberify
May 06, 2021

Spotify shows play counts

The desktop version of Spotify now contains play counts for every track on every album available. InsideHook took a chance to find songs with a small number of plays, which deserve to be played much more, like Joni Mitchell's 'The Last Time I Saw Richard' and Metallica's 'The Struggle Within'.

Talib Kweli / Tom Morello

Tom Morello, DIIV, Talib Kweli, and 180 other musicians signed an open letter calling on Spotify to make a public commitment never to utilize, license, sell, or monetize a patent for technology that could monitor and record users’ speech and background noise to help curate and recommend music, Pitchfork reports. “Spotify claims that the technology can detect, among other things, ‘emotional state, gender, age, or accent’ to recommend music” the letter reads, outlining the five major concerns that the coalition has regarding the technology: “emotional manipulation,” discrimination, privacy violations, data security, and the exacerbation of inequality in the music industry.

Spotify's former chief economist Will Page published a new study Twitch's Rockonomics which claims that artists make roughly 10 times more on Twitch than streaming providers. However, Twitch is very specific, and very different from Spotify - artists use Twitch to livestream content to their fans, charging monthly subscriptions (for $5, $10, or $25), earn digital tokens called Bits, or generate ad revenue. In general, Twitch aims super-fans willing to pay more for artists they like...

A fiver for all the music in the world...
April 29, 2021

Spotify subscribers pay less than $5 per month

Spotify's monthly Premium subscriber ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) in the first quarter of 2021 stood at just €4.12, down 7% year-on-year. In Spotify’s prior quarter (Q4 2020), the firm’s ARPU stood at €4.26, while in the prior year quarter (Q1 2020), it was €4.42. Music Business Worldwide recalculated it in US dollars - Q1 2021’s €4.12 per month figure was the equivalent of USD 4.97 per month period based on current exchange rates. Spotify has announced it is set to raise prices in Europe and the US by 1 to 3 euros/pounds/dollars, depending on the plan.

Please, forward it to the needy - artists!
April 27, 2021

Spotify to increase prices in the US and Europe

Spotify is set to raise prices for its Premium Duo, Premium Family and Student plans in the UK and Europe from the end of this month for new users and starting from June 2021 for existing subscribers. In the US, Spotify will be raising only the monthly price of Premium Family, the Verge reports.

UK:

Student — £4.99 ➡️ £5.99 (+£1)
Duo — £12.99 ➡️ £13.99 (+£1)
Family — £14.99 ➡️ £16.99 (+£2)

EU:

Student — €4.99 ➡️ €5.99 (+€1)
Duo — €11.99 ➡️ €12.99 (+€1)
Family — €14.99 ➡️ €17.99 (+€3)

US:

Family — $14.99 ➡️ $15.99 (+$1)

Different kinds of bites
April 20, 2021

Apple pay per stream calculations explained

Apple Music has published last week that their average per play rate is $0.01, which is roughly double what Spotify pays the artists. But it's not that simple - MBW and Trapital explain Apple Music's and Spotify's models, their reach, the number of users, and how much exactly they pay to the labels (not directly to the artists, actually). Variety also points out, with word of an unnamed executive, that the best option is "a lot of users streaming a lot of music”, which would in return mean a lower per-stream rate. For example, if one artist were racking up a high percentage of streams on a less-popular streaming service, their per-stream rate would be quite high — but they’d actually have fewer streams than they would on a site with more users. Spotify has an industry-leading 155 million paying subscribers and 345 million active users, according to its most recent report, while Apple last reported more than 60 million Music subscribers in June 2019.

The music streaming giant has stepped into music listening hardware business - Spotify is launching a smart device for the car called the Car Thing. The new voice-controlled device, which only works with a Spotify Premium account, will let users say “Hey Spotify” to ask for a song, album, artist, playlist, station, or podcast. It also features a dial to browse, select, play and pause content, a 4″ touchscreen and four preset buttons for shortcuts to user's favorite artists, playlists, stations, and podcasts. The device connects to Spotify’s app on a smartphone and connects to the car stereo via Bluetooth, AUX or USB cable, TechCrunch reports. Initially available for select US users, the new gadget’s anticipated retail price is $79.99, but is available at no cost for a limited time for those select users, with SPOT only charging $6.99 postage.

Spotify announced the acquisition of Betty Labs, the creators of Locker Room, a live audio app focused on sports talk, with the aim to build its own rival to the buzzy Clubhouse live-audio chat app, MBW reports. Spotify’s deal values Betty Labs at around $50 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. Betty Labs first launched Locker Room for sports fans in October 2020. Spotify said it plans to rebrand the app (but keep it separate) to “evolve and expand” Locker Room into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans, offering sports, music, and cultural programming along with interactive features that enable creators to connect with listeners in real time.

An interesting statistic in the MBW about the potential to earn an average wage as a musician, as opposed to a footballer. Spotify announced this week that 13,400 artists generated over $50,000 each in royalty payouts (records plus publishing) from their platform in 2020. There are now somewhere around 7 million artists with their music on Spotify, which means just 0.2% of artists on Spotify are generating $50k per year (median annual US wage). On the other side, there are around 320 million footballers today, and, by FIFA numbers, 128,983 of them actually get paid (something) to play, which is 0.04% of them.

Spotify has launched a new website – Loud & Clear – with plenty of information about money generated on the streaming platform. In 2020, some 13,400 acts generated total payments in excess of $50,000 around the world, double the number of artists who generated over $50k in payments from Spotify in 2017 (7,300). Also, L&C shows that 7,800 artists generated $100k-plus in 2020, the $500k-plus-per-year club counted 1,820 artists in 2020, and the $1 million-plus-per-year club counted 870 artists in 2020. Generated is important here - it's the amount made by the artist's music, and that amount is being split by the artist and the publisher, with the big chunk (85% or so) going to the publisher. As of 2020, Spotify has paid over $23 billion in royalties to rights holders — including over $5 billion in 2020 alone, up from $3.3 billion in 2017.

The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers organized protests outside Spotify’s offices in 31 cities in the US and Canada, South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia on Monday, Clash Magazine reports. The peaceful demonstrations were meant to draw attention to the “Justice at Spotify” list of demands, which includes paying artists one cent per stream (Spotify currently pays some artists as little as $0.0038 per stream, which is among the lowest rates of any platform), plus transparent contracts, a more user-centric payment model, an end to payola, a switch to crediting all labor in recordings, and an end to legal battles against artists which serve to “further impoverish artists”.

Routenote brings the numbers in - lists the ten largest music streaming services by number of tracks in their catalogue. The undisputable No. 1 is SoundCloud with 200 million songs, Deezer follows with 72 million songs, while the next five - Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, Amazon, Qobuz - host around 70 million songs each. Napster follows with 60 million, while YouTube Music and KKBOX round up the Top 10 with 50 million songs each.

Big money - not big enough
February 27, 2021

Spotify paid out $5 billion in royalties in 2020

Spotify CEO and cofounder Daniel Ek said the company paid out $5 billion in royalties in 2020, Spotify reports. Chief content officer Dawn Ostroff announced that over the last four years, the number of recording artists whose catalogs generated more than $1 million a year across recording and publishing is up over 82% to more than 800 artists (the majority of money is still going to the labels), and the number generating more than $100,000 a year is up 79% to more than 7,500 artists. Spotify this week also announced that it will be introducing a hi-fi option later this year.

We'll need a thousand ears - each!
February 25, 2021

60,000 tracks uploaded to Spotify - every day

Across the course of this year, approximately 22 million tracks will be added to Spotify’s catalog, which is approximately 60,000 tracks per day, meaning a new track is uploaded to its platform every 1.4 seconds, Music Business Worldwide reports. Spotify confirmed in November last year that its platform played host to around 70 million tracks.

Spotify is expanding into over 80 new markets in more than 36 new languages – including key territories across Africa such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, Spotify reports. Together, these 80 markets house more than a billion people with nearly half of them already using the internet. The vast expansion over the coming days means that Spotify will be active in more than 173 markets.

SpotiFarm
February 10, 2021

How to become a millionaire on Spotify?

Just a very funny article in Vice about how to become a millionaire on Spotify by playing your music on your own computer, or rather on a lot of computers. You need 30-second songs - once a track is 30 seconds in, it counts as a stream. Continuously streaming 30-second songs for 24-hours on one computer nets you £7.89 per day. You need those songs to be played all day, every day, for a year, on 360 computers, and at the end of that year – you’ll have earned over £1,000,000 in streams! Genius; well, at least in theory.

No raise for artists any time soon
February 04, 2021

Spotify lost 2 million euros last year - per day!

Spotify’s pre-tax loss in 2020 weighed in at €709m, five times the equivalent loss seen at the company in the prior year, Music Business Worldwide reports on the financial year of the biggest music streaming service. Other infos are much better - share price surged from $152.50 on January 3 to $341.66 on December 31, up 106%. Spotify's revenues grew 93% from 2017 (€4.09bn) to 2020 (€7.88bn). Spotify’s Sales & Marketing expenditure bounded up in 2020 - it jumped a full 25% to surpass a billion euros (€1.03bn) for the first time ever, doubling in the three years from 2017 to 2020.

K-popify
February 02, 2021

Spotify launches in South Korea

Starting Tuesday, Spotify users in South Korea will have access to more than 60 million tracks and over 4 billion playlists from around the world, ZDnet reports. Upon launch, Spotify will exert most of its domestic efforts on the global phenomenon of K-pop. In the last six years, Spotify listeners have streamed more than 180 billion minutes of K-pop with the share of K-pop listening increasing by more than 2,000% in the same period. Spotify’s customer base now stands at 320 million monthly active users and 144 million subscribers worldwide.

Australian drivers in Queensland who use Spotify in the car will be part of the government's trial safety program, which plays motorists messages urging them to slow down when nearing the state’s school zones, Brisbane Times reports. The feature uses Spotify’s geo-targeting ability to track when drivers come within five kilometres of a school zone and plays them one of 10 specially adapted songs that contain a “slow down” message.

Happy with the selection of sad music?
January 28, 2021

Spotify to suggest songs based on listener's emotions

Spotify has patented technology that will allow it to analyse user's voice and suggest songs based on "emotional state, gender, age, or accent" of the listener, Music Business Worldwide reports. The patent suggests that speech recognition could be used to gather information about age and gender, while contextual cues such as "intonation, stress, rhythm" would provide clues as to whether a user was "happy, angry, sad or neutral". In September, Spotify patented a karaoke-like feature that allows people to "overlay a music track with their own vocals". Earlier this week, Spotify also gained permission for a "cadence-based media content selection engine" - which matches the tempo of the music to the listener's running speed.

The Toronto singer/rapper has become the first artist ever to surpass 50 billion combined streams on Spotify, with his 2018 song ‘God’s Plan’ racking up 1.67 billion streams alone, NME reports. Drake has clocked up 35.72 billion streams of his own songs and 14.30 billion streams of “featured streams” (such as tracks he has guested on).

Spotify, Pandora and Deezer are all using personalised systems to suggest playlists or tracks tailored to the user, so people using these service end up listening to - more of the same. Wired suggests how to break out of that loop. The simplest way is to actively seek out something new - a new genre, or something completely different, just to shake up the algorithm. Listening to playlists curated by individuals also helps, as well as content-based recommendations which are based on sound rather than other people’s listening habits.

On January 1, 2021, Spotify enacted a massive, global takedown of music from thousands of independent artists. Some 750,000 songs were removed, the vast majority of which appear to have used Distrokid for distribution - Music Think Tank reports. Spotify is alleging artificial or “fraudulent streams”, and it appears Spotify's moves are targeted at any independent artist who used a third party playlist or independent marketing service to promote their music.

That plant needs watering
December 02, 2020

Spotify donates $500,000 to U.S. indie venues

Spotify has donated $500,000 to the National Independent Venue Association in a show of solidarity with music venues in the U.S. that aren't part of a conglomerated promotion apparatus such as Live Nation or AEG. The donation comes at a critical time for indie venues across the U.S. as they face a long winter without live shows, possibly even well into the next year as well. Spotify's half-million-dollar donation is the second-largest that NIVA has received since its inception - only Anheuser-Busch has given more, $1 million.That plant needs watering

With 8.3 billion streams, Puerto Rican rapper and singer is Spotify's most-streamed artist of 2020, the first time an artist that has never sung in English tops the year-end list. Second to Bad Bunny for 2020 is Drake, while another Latin act, J Balvin, came in at No. 3, followed by the late rapper Juice WRLD and The Weeknd. Bad Bunny's album 'YHLQMDLG' is also the most-streamed album globally on the service, with over 3.3 billion streams, ABC reports. Spotify’s most-streamed song of the year is Blinding Lights', with 1.6 million streams globally.

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