Spotify Paid a Record $9B to Artists and Music Industry Participants in 2023: Report

Roughly half of last year's payout went to indie artists.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek
Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Spotify

Spotify paid a record $9 billion to music industry participants in 2023, according to the company’s annual music economics report released yesterday (Mar. 18). Spotify’s payout in last year alone amounted to 19 percent of its total music payouts of $48 billion since the company’s founding in 2006. 

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Though Spotify has lately been emphasizing its audio products, such as podcasts, yesterday’s report touted some of the strides the music streaming platform has made to show that the company is investing in traditionally less resourced musicians. About $4.5 billion of last year’s payout went to independent artists and artists signed to independent labels. “This marks the first year ever that Indies accounted for about half of what the entire industry generated on Spotify,” the report said. “Every year, Spotify has paid out more and more money in streaming royalties, resulting in record revenues and growth for rights holders on behalf of artists and songwriters. These rights holders include record labels, publishers, independent distributors, performance rights organizations, and collecting societies.”

The number of artists earning royalties starting at $1000 has almost tripled since 2017. Last year, 66,000 creators made at least $10,000, compared to 23,400 in 2017. The company’s royalty model recently changed, though. Starting this year, an artist needs to have more than 1,000 plays for an individual track before they are eligible for a payment. 

The report also highlighted Spotify’s dominant position in today’s music streaming market. The app has more than 600 million users, including 236 million paid subscribers. Last year, more than 329,000 songs on the app were streamed at least 1 million times last year. “In the early days of streaming, a million streams of a song could take time to reach. But in today’s landscape, over 329,000 songs were streamed over a million times in 2023 alone,” the report said.

Spotify’s growing power in the music industry has been called into question as it goes toe-to-toe with competitors like Apple Music. Spotify recently argued before the European Union regulators that Apple (AAPL) was not offering App Store users the full range of Spotify subscription options. Apple has countered that Spotify has been given outsized influence in Europe by the E.U. 

Some artists who have taken a stand against Spotify recently made peace with the platform, indicating the reach the company has. Most recently, the Canadian singer-songwriterNeil Young announced his return to Spotify after a two-year hiatus protesting Joe Rogan’s podcast, which recently renewed its contract with Spotify as part of a $250 million nonexclusive distribution deal. When Young removed his music in 2022, other artists, including Joni Mitchell and India.Arie Simpson, also pulled their music in solidarity. Young said Rogan’s new nonexclusive deal was the reason he gave up his fight against Spotify, since other platforms could now stream the “same disinformation podcast features,” as he called it in a blog post.

Spotify Paid a Record $9B to Artists and Music Industry Participants in 2023: Report