I heard Spotify pays a fraction of a penny per stream. Is that true?

Mar 2, 2023

In the streaming era, fans do not pay per song, so we don’t believe a “per stream” rate is a meaningful number to analyze. Spotify, like every major streaming service, pays royalties based on an artist’s share of overall streams across the platform. We call this “streamshare.” 

Spotify is focused on maximizing the total size of the payments we are able to make to rights holders — those that pay artists and songwriters — and the data on this site reflects our progress. We pay out more than any other streaming service; in fact, Spotify paid the music industry more money than ever in 2023: $9B+. That figure has nearly tripled over the past seven years, and represents a big part of the $48B+ Spotfy has paid since its founding.

And our incentives are aligned with artists — the more revenue we generate, the more payouts for artists. Along with every major streaming service, we pay out roughly two-thirds of every dollar we generate from music back to artists’ and songwriters’ rights holders.

Still, we understand that artists find it useful to calculate an effective “per stream” rate — dividing the total size of the royalty pool on Spotify by the total number of music streams on Spotify. We dig into that in the “Why does the ‘per stream rate’ appear lower for Spotify than some other streaming services?” question on this page.

Our model drives more fan engagement and generates revenue from more places, which means larger total checks from Spotify to rights holders. That’s why we pay more than any other service. We make some choices that decrease the effective “per-stream rate,” but we believe we are maximizing overall revenue and generating the most possible money for rights holders and their artists and songwriters.