Mar 19, 2024 3 min read

Spotify publishes new Loud & Clear, says the focus now is artists “dependent on streaming as part of their livelihood”

Spotify has published loads more stats as part of an update to its Loud & Clear website. Although the stats are interesting, this site is partly about countering criticism of Spotify, and it’s interesting to see what criticism is clearly being dealt with among the facts and figures

Spotify publishes new Loud & Clear, says the focus now is artists “dependent on streaming as part of their livelihood”
Image credit: Spotify

The Loud & Clear site provides useful information for the wider music community on trends in the market and about how the music streaming business model works. Though it also has a lobbying role, seeking to push out narratives that respond to and, where possible, counter criticism from within the music industry. 

What's a key narrative in the latest update of the site though? Spotify really doesn’t care about grassroots artists anymore, that’s what. 

"We’re focused on those most dependent on streaming as part of their livelihood", says the site, that being "the 225,000 emerging and professional artists on Spotify in 2023". That’s a far cry from the million creators that Spotify once said it would enable to "live off their art". Unless there are an awful lot of podcasters making a living from their podcasts. 

Spotify's focus when it comes to musicians has shifted, of course, because of its bid to placate grumpy major label bosses by freezing millions of grassroots creators out of the royalty pool. All so that a little more cash can flow to everyone else, though inevitably mainly superstars and big catalogue owners benefit the most from that move. 

You shouldn’t worry about those who have been frozen out though, Spotify insists. They are slackers making music no one listens to. To date, more than ten million musicians have uploaded at least one track, Loud & Clear declares. However, around eight million have uploaded fewer than ten tracks and around five million have scored less than 100 streams across their catalogue. 

It is true that storing millions of tracks that no one ever plays is possibly unsustainable for the streaming services. But applying a blunt monetisation threshold on a global basis, at the insistence of the majors, and with zero consultation of the artist community, is not a good look for a company that has made so much over the years about how it is empowering independent creators. 

The new stats on Loud & Clear do hone in on the artists who have successfully grown an audience and built their revenues on Spotify, getting themselves into the pool of 225,000 artists that the streaming firm cares about. But that doesn’t really help. Nor do clumsy analogies to football - recently employed by CEO Daniel Ek and again on the new Loud & Clear site. 

"FIFA estimated there are hundreds of millions of people who self-identify as 'footballers'", it says, "but 128,694 people are actually getting paid any amount of money from it". 

It was a nonsense analogy when Ek first delivered it, not least because many people participate in sport for fitness reasons. And even if it did make sense, it still doesn’t justify stopping a grassroots artist with a few hundred dedicated fans from pulling a few hundred quid out of the system each year to help fund their passion for music making. 

Elsewhere, the Loud & Clear stats seek to counter three other common criticisms of the streaming service: that streaming doesn't pay; that only the major players benefit; and that songwriters are always screwed over. 

"For another year, Spotify set the record for the highest annual payment to the music industry from any single retailer: $9 billion+", the Loud & Clear stats summary brags. 

Repeating a figure recently shared by Ek on social media,it adds,  "in 2023, indies generated nearly $4.5 billion on Spotify. This marks the first year ever that indies accounted for about half of what the entire industry generated on Spotify".

Also, "Spotify paid out $4 billion to publishing rights holders - who represent songwriters - over the last two years. Songwriters - through their publishing rights holders - are generating record-breaking revenues, driven by streaming services". 

So, now you know, and you can all stop moaning. Or not. It’s up to you. 

You can access all the new stats below.

Loud and Clear by Spotify
Artists deserve clarity about the economics of music streaming. This site aims to increase transparency by sharing new data on the global streaming economy and breaking down the royalty system, the players, and the process.
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