You can find them all over the internet. Rumours, assumptions, wild guesses and theories about what Spotify pays to artists. Remember the Lady Gaga story? She received $167 for 1 million plays. But how reliable is this information?
I contacted labels, artists, collecting societies and Spotify to find out the truth but no one was willing or able to give me some real insight. They all kept saying is was confidential information, because of non-disclosure clauses and stuff. So I took a another approach. I contacted a few bands and asked them if they would be so kind to let me release their music on Spotify. Both Paceshifters and Little Things That Kill agreed to this. I released two singles by Paceshifters using Ditto Music as aggregator. For an album and a single by Little Things That Kill I decided to use Zimbalam.
Being sort of a label owner I was able to find out what Spotify really pays to an (independent) artist.
The real deal
In September 2010 Spotify paid 0.17 Euro cent per play. A few months later the pay out per play had risen to 0.22 Euro cent.
Keep in mind that these payments are exclusive of songwriter royalties that Spotify pays separately to organisations like ASCAP or BMI in the US or PRS for Music in the UK. So for songwriters there may be a little extra.
Here is an example of the statement I received:
If you are interested in all details download this PDF with my Q4 Zimbalam statement.
Stream by free or subscribing user
I have asked a few Spotify Premium users to play a particular track a few times to see if that would show if that would lead to a higher pay out. I didn’t find any other amounts in the statements so I guess it is safe to say that it doesn’t matter if the song is streamed by a paying or a free user.
Do the big labels get a higher pay out per stream?
That could well be. To get and keep these labels aboard Spotify probably has to give them a better deal.
How about the competition?
I don’t have much information on pay outs by services like Napster and Rhapsody. The Zimbalam statement does show one play by a Napster user, this generated 1.56 Euro cent. Far more than Spotify pays, but you have to keep in mind Spotify has over10 million users while Napster has about 800,000. More users means more streams so even with the current pay outs Spotify may be a better money maker.
I will receive new statements in April and will publish an update as soon as possible.
This article is a summary of my articles published earlier on Digimuziek.nl