The biggest music streaming providers in China, Tencent Music and NetEase Cloud Music, added 4.0 million paying music users quarter-on-quarter in Q1 2022, and 7.8 million respectively. TME’s official ‘paying online music’ user-base now stands at 80.2 million customers, while NetEase now stands at 36.7 million customers. Spotify net-added 2 million paying customers to its service in Q1 2022, and now stands at 182 million Premium subscribers outside of China. When it comes to finance, however, the numbers go in the Swedish company's direction - its Premium subs business generated €2.379 billion (USD $2.67bn) in the first quarter of 2022. Tencent Music online music services revenue fell to USD $413 million, while NetEase Cloud Music’s online music services generated USD $140m. MBW has all the numbers and comparisons.

Last year 52,600 artists generated over $10,000 on Spotify, the platform has announced, the MBW reports. 15,140 of these 52,600 artists – around 28% – uploaded their own music. Of the 52,600 artists who generated more than $10k last year:

  • 16,500 artists generated more than $50k;
  • 9,500 artists generated more than $100k;
  • 2,170 artists generated more than $500k;
  • and 1,040 artists generated more than $1 million.

Spotify paid out $7 billion (across publishing and recorded music) to music industry rights-holders.

Spotify has struck a major four-year sponsorship agreement with Barcelona worth $310 million. MBW calculated that in order for an artist to generate $310 million in recorded music royalties on the Spotify platform – at $0.00348 per-stream average rate – they would need to rack up a gigantic 89.08 billion plays on the service. No artist in the history of Spotify has ever, across their entire catalog, attracted that many plays. The most cumulative streams ever recorded by a single artist on Spotify is Drake with 62.84 billion.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young have pulled their respective solo catalogs as well as the music they made together from Spotify, Rolling Stone reports. “We support Neil and we agree with him that there is dangerous disinformation being aired on Spotify’s Joe Rogan podcast” a joint statement announcing that they plan to remove their music reads - “While we always value alternate points of view, knowingly spreading disinformation during this global pandemic has deadly consequences. Until real action is taken to show that a concern for humanity must be balanced with commerce, we don’t want our music — or the music we made together — to be on the same platform”.

MBW founder Tim Ingham discusses Neil Young’s decision to remove his catalog from Spotify in protest to what he deems Covid-19 misinformation appearing on the platform, on Talking Trends podcast: “Ultimately, people aren’t loyal to music streaming services, whatever playlists they’ve built – they’re loyal to the artists they love. Fans will spend hundreds of dollars they don’t have, sitting next to a drug addled lunatic on a long night-bus ride, walk hours in the pissing rain, just to attend a Neil Young concert. They’ll switch music streaming provider with a waggle of their thumb”.

Napkin Math and Trapital share an essay on Spotify: "Through a combination of convenience, partnerships with rights holders, and on-demand listening, it outlasted music piracy and beat legacy platforms like iTunes. It has built the business that saved the music industry. In October 2021, the company had 381 million monthly active users and was growing 19% year over year... Spotify wins because it has what matters most—attention. Spotify is the primary distribution tool for the biggest artists in the world. It has amplified attention for genres that were held back before the streaming era. The company is now on a mission to capture attention for all forms of audio. It is the attention king".

Stand your ground
January 30, 2022

Nils Lofgren removes music from Spotify

Nils Lofgren, a member of Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, has pulled his music from Spotify in protest of the platform’s spread of COVID disinformation, following Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. “Music is our planet’s sacred weapon, uniting and healing billions of souls every day. Pick up your sword and start swinging” - Lofgren wrote.

Billboard calculates losses Neil Yung and Joni Mitchell are going to have due to their withdrawal from Spotify: "At an estimated $2.8 million in streaming royalties last year, Young’s decision will forego about $1.2 million each year for him and his label, Warner Music/Reprise (Spotify accounted for about 43%). Of that, Young likely received half — $600,000. On top of that, Young earned $308,000 in publishing revenue from Spotify last year. Half of that — $154,000 — he would receive for the songwriter share with the other half going to Hipgnosis Songs. For Young, personally, the decision to pull his music from Spotify will cost him about $754,000 annually. In 2021, Mitchell’s recording catalog earned $373,000 from Spotify revenues. Like Young, Mitchell’s heritage contract likely earns her half of those revenues, adding up to about $186,500 in artist royalties she is foregoing. Her publishing, including her songwriting share, earned about $702,000 annually, of which about 11% — $79,000 — came from Spotify. Mitchell’s personal annual loss, based on her catalog’s performance for 2021, would be about $257,000 in total artist and publishing royalties", Billboard estimates.

Joni Mitchell has announced on her blog that she intended to remove “all my music” from Spotify, MBW reports. Her reason are “irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives”. Mitchell added: “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue”. Neil Young pulled his albums from Spotify due to his belief that the podcaster Joe Rogan has been spreading untruths about Covid vaccinations on the service.

Neil Young has posted an open letter to his website directing his management and record label to remove all of his music from Spotify, which he accused of “spreading fake information about vaccines—potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them”. He wrote “they can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both”, referencing the Spotify podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, which doctors have decried for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines, Rolling Stone reports.

Four weekends a month
January 23, 2022

The Weeknd breaks record for most Spotify listeners

The Weeknd has now risen to have 85,667,564 monthly listeners on Spotify, becoming the artist with the most monthly listeners on the platform, Hip Hop DX reports. The title had previously been held by Justin Bieber for nearly a year. The feat comes after The Weeknd has released his new album ‘Dawn FM’ earlier this month. 'Dawn FM' has also set a new record for the Billboard Global 200 chart with 24 charting songs, making the most ever by a solo male artist.

Bad Bunny has been named the most-streamed artist in the world on Spotify in 2021, for the second year in a row, Music Business Worldwide reports. Bad Bunny has received over 9.1 billion streams in 2021 so far, achieving that tally without even having released an album this year. Last year, he had received over 8.3 billion streams on Spotify by December 1.

Lady sings the rules
November 22, 2021

Spotify removes shuffle button on Adele’s request

Adele had a simple request when it came to her new album, ’30’: listen to the songs in the order she presented them. The British superstar’s wish was heard by Spotify when the music streaming giant agreed to remove its default shuffle feature which plays songs in random order, NPR reports. It expanded beyond Adele - a quick review by Gizmodo of other artists’ albums (Ed Sheeran, BTS, Blackpink, Taylor Swift) on the platform also found that the shuffle option was gone and that albums were played in order by default. The shuffle option could however be activated in the platform player.

Spotify has announced it will make a new Lyrics feature available to all global users, both Free and Premium, across platforms, The Verge reports. The feature is powered by lyrics provider Musixmatch. Lyrics will be available across platforms from the “Now Playing” view or bar, depending on the platform. On mobile, users can swipe up from the “Now Playing” screen to see the track’s lyrics scroll by in real time as the song is playing. On the desktop app, you can click the microphone icon from the “Now Playing” bar instead. And on the Spotify TV app, you’ll navigate to the top-right corner of the “Now Playing” view to enable Lyrics from the lyrics button.

aylor Swift's re-recording 'Red (Taylor’s Version)' smashed the record for the most-streamed album in a day by a female artist on Spotify with more than 90.8 million streams around the globe, Billboard reports. That number only surpasses Swift’s own 'folklore', which previously held the record at 80.6 million streams upon its surprise July 2020 release. Taylor also earned the distinction as the most-streamed female artist in a single day in Spotify's history with more than 122.9 million streams.

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.

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