In 2021, Spotify launched loud and cleara resource for artists and industry professionals that breaks down the royalty system, the players and the process.
Today we are releasing new and updated information and data, as well as 2021 figures that show significant new progress towards a healthier and more diverse music industry.
Read on for our top ten findings.
1. We paid music rights holders more money than ever in 2021: $7 billion+, up from $5 billion+ in 2020. That’s more than double what we paid in 2017 ($3.3 billion) and represents a large portion of the $30 billion we’ve paid out to rightsholders since our inception. Even adjusting for inflation, that $7 billion total is the highest amount paid by any retailer to the music industry in a year in history, including a single retailer at its peak. of the CD or digital download era.
2. In 2021, revenue from recorded streaming alone (all services combined) exceeded the industry-wide revenue from all forms of recorded music for every year from 2009 to 2016. When the music industry reached its low point in 2014, it generated $14.2 billion. from all parts of the recorded industry (streaming, physical sales, synchronization, downloads, performing rights). In 2021, recorded streaming revenue alone topped $16.9 billion, with Spotify leading the way.
3. We celebrated another milestone this year with over 1,000 artists generating $1 million on Spotify alone. But when artists reach new heights, it’s time to launch additional milestones. New to the site in 2021, since so many artists are well past the $1 million level, we’ve added $2 million and $5 million data. In 2021, 450 artists generated over $2 million on Spotify, an increase of 110% over five years, and 130 artists generated over $5 million, an increase of 160% over the same period.
4. More and more artists are reaching milestones at all income levels, from $1,000 to $5 million, and the numbers are accelerating rapidly. The number of artists who have reached each of these milestones has doubled since 2017. And when you take into account other service revenue and recorded revenue streams, these artists are likely to generate 4 times that amount from recorded music as a whole. For the first time this year, a diverse group of over 500,000 artists, from different countries, genres and career stages, generated $10,000 from Spotify and likely over $40,000 from all recorded revenue streams.
5. Over the past year, nearly all of our music partners have seen record profits and growth for their artists. The three major music labels jointly generated more than $25 billion in revenue last year, including $12.5 billion from recorded streaming revenue alone. Spotify payments account for about a third of that streaming total. Profits for major labels in 2021 topped $4 billion, meaning more money to reinvest to grow the industry.
6. Songwriters and producers, through their publishing rights holders, are generating record revenues from streaming services. Publishing rights holders earned $3.5 billion from streaming in 2020, a sum that exceeds revenue from CD publishing and downloads in any year in the 21st century so far, even in the strongest of the CD era.
7. More artists are participating in today’s booming music economy than ever before. At the height of the CD era, nearly 25% of album sales in the United States were made by the top 50 artists. On Spotify in 2021, only 12% of US streams were for the top 50 artists, meaning the revenue opportunities now extend far beyond superstars.
8. Many artists use distributors like DistroKid, TuneCore, CD Baby or others to self-publish their music on Spotify – and more than ever, it’s paid off. Nearly a third (28%) of artists who reached $10,000 in revenue on Spotify released music through an artist distributor in 2021. Those 15,150 artists represent a 171% increase since 2017.
9. Streaming has lowered the barriers to entry into music and accelerated the search for a global fanbase, meaning artists can quickly go from first single to first major payday. More than 10% of artists (5,300) who generated more than $10,000 on Spotify in 2021 released their first songs in the past two years. In 2021, 350 of them have generated $100,000 from Spotify alone.
10. Streaming revenue is bringing real scale to music industries in emerging markets, making it increasingly possible to pursue a professional career as an artist in countries around the world. In 2021, Spotify was launched in 80+ markets, introducing these artists to new fans all over the world. Of the 52,600 artists who generated over $10,000 on Spotify in 2021, 34% live in countries outside of IFPI’s top ten music markets (Australia, Canada, China, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, UK and USA).
We’re excited to see progress based on these numbers, but there’s still a long way to go. As CEO, Daniel Eck, shared, “Music matters. To the world and to Spotify. It’s where we started and what continues to inspire us as we build the most valuable platform for artists. We’re far from done. Read the continuation of Daniel’s letter on loud and clearin addition to resources detailing the various voices represented on the platform, broader industry context, reports and FAQs.