How Much Does Spotify Actually Pay Artists Per Stream?

How Much Does Spotify Actually Pay Artists Per Stream

Written by Omari

Most people listen to music today using online streaming services like Spotify. Some artists are no longer releasing CDs in favor of having digital-only copies of their music. With music streaming services like Spotify being extremely popular these days, how does this affect the music artists? Are they getting paid more using this novel method of distributing music?

Today, there are over 200 music streaming services, with heavyweights like Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube being some of the most popular. With dwindling physical sales of music, artists have switched over to selling music directly to their fans online. Many people today do not even buy digital downloads in lieu of taking the easier route of simply paying for a Spotify subscription and making custom playlists of their favorite music.

How Spotify Pays Artists

Before we get into how much does Spotify pay artists, we need to go over all the parties they pay when a song is listened to. The three payments to rights-holders that get released each time a song is streamed are the following:

  • Mechanical performance royalties
  • Public performance royalties
  • Music artists, usually via distributors and record labels

The third payment is the one that is the largest and the one which makes the most impact on music artists' earnings. Every time you listen to a song, you are helping your favorite music artists get paid. Sure, it may not be much, but it is an easy way to support them with little effort or money on your part.

How Much Does Spotify Pay for 1 Million Streams?

So how much does Spotify pay for 1 million streams? To find this answer, you first need to know how much does Spotify pay per play. While the exact figures may vary from artist to artist and these figures are constantly changing, we can gain insights based on what data has been released by artists themselves.

Recently, there was a group in the EDM genre that released the details of their Spotify royalties once they reached 1 million streams. This was the first insight the world got into how much does Spotify pay for 1 million streams. Per song, they received $0.004891. If that number is shocking to you, just wait until you see how much that comes out to after a million streams. The total amount you would get paid by Spotify for 1 million streams is roughly $4,955.90. With the average song running around 4 minutes, that means 66,666 hours of an artist's music has to be streamed to get $4,955.90. That is nearly 8 years of an artist's music playing non-stop. 

Recent data from earlier in 2019 shows that Spotify may actually be paying even less than this now. One figure shared is $0.0032 per stream. That comes out to around a third less than it used to be!

For the most accurate count, you can use our Spotify streaming royalty calculator.

What This Means for Music Artists

Spotify is hardly the only music streaming service giving such low payouts to music artists. There was no streaming service in 2019 that paid over $0.02 per stream. While that may seem more reasonable, it is still unlikely to match what someone making minimum wage would be making over the course of a year for your run-of-the-mill musician.

This is why we never recommend relying on streaming revenue alone to make up the bulk of your music income. Here are some much more viable options:

  1. Live shows
  2. Merchandise
  3. Sponsors
  4. Songwriting fees
  5. Session musician fees
  6. Affiliate income
  7. TV & Film placements

All of these avenues have the potential to help your music marketing strategy

The shockingly-low payouts by music streaming services like Spotify is a reason why a growing number of artists are calling for alternative models to help support them as musicians. The current model is a complicated pool method that is not based on user-centric payouts, which would be a more fair way to pay music artists. 

Currently, the amount a musician makes from 1 million streams on Spotify is in a continuous state of flux. There are literally hundreds of factors affecting the ending total. Some of them are who is listening, where they are listening from, and how often they are streaming an artist's music. This is why it is difficult to find the same figure twice when looking for how much does Spotify pay per listen.

live shows

Live shows can typically be the top earner for artists

Subscription vs. Ad-Supported Spotify

Part of the reason why payments are so low to music artists on Spotify is because the company has a free, ad-supported, version, alongside a paid subscription service. The most recent figures Spotify released show that they have 96 million paying subscribers to their streaming music service. There are 111 million who are choosing to stream for free by using Spotify's ad-supported service.

These figures show that slightly more people are listening to music streams for free. If Spotify was subscription-only, then artists would likely be getting paid more. However, it is also possible that less people would be using Spotify, so it is difficult to say whether artists would actually be getting paid more.

Music streaming services are still relatively new compared with the age of the physical music industry. There are obviously flaws in the financial distribution system, which hopefully will be fixed. This is probably why music artists have been looking for other ways to support themselves. 

With the times changing as they are, musicians have become more innovative and creative with how they pick up the slack of lagging royalties. While hopefully Spotify can start paying artists more soon, for the time being, it is not as much as hoped. 

Wrapping Up

Now that you know how much does Spotify pay per listen, you can see that it is not that much. It is no surprise that many music artists struggle to make a decent living off of streaming music services such as Spotify. The digital streaming industry is still quite young, so hopefully it will be able to shift to a more user-centric model which will be more lucrative for the musicians creating the music we all enjoy.

For now, don’t blame Spotify for your lack of music income! You have more marketing tools at your hand than ever before! Facebooks ads, Instagram ads, YouTube ads, and more. 

I know what you’re thinking, “I’ve already tried some of these, and they didn’t work for me.” 

We’ve found the biggest thing artists are missing is a detailed plan and knowledge of how all this new technology works. 

Just because you set up a Facebook ad doesn’t mean that the targeting was optimized or that you were even pushing people towards the right offer!

This is why we give out free ebooks and courses whenever people buy our top Google ranked music promotion services.


When your song is ready to go, it's time to start promoting it to potential fans! Omari has the best organic promotion services money can buy. With packages for SoundCloud, Spotify, Instagram, and YouTube, we will get your music the traffic and attention it deserves! Click below for more information.

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