Is streaming only helping music’s biggest stars?

Mar 2, 2023

No. Streaming has fundamentally changed the music ecosystem — lowering barriers to entry and democratizing access to audio for listeners across the world. Artists no longer need big budgets to create, distribute, and amplify their music around the world.

More artists are sharing in today’s thriving music economy compared to the peak of the CD era. In the heyday of CDs, nearly 25% of US sales were accounted for by the top 50 artists. On Spotify in 2023, only 13% of US streams were from the top 50 artists –– meaning that today, revenue opportunities reach far beyond the superstars.

We’re seeing that Spotify royalties are powering artists’ careers at all stages. In 2023, 66,000 artists generated $10,000+ (up from 23,400 in 2017). And careers don’t just start on Spotify, they grow on Spotify. Of the 23,400 artists who generated $10,000+ in 2017, nearly half generated more than $50,000 in 2023, and likely $200,000 overall across all recorded revenue sources. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Over 80% of the artists who generated $1,000,000 on Spotify in 2023 didn’t have a song reach the Top 50 of Spotify’s Daily Global Songs chart. In the streaming era, the charts aren’t big enough to contain all of the artists finding success. Fans’ tastes are more diverse, and the royalty pool is increasingly massive ($9B!) – which means more revenue to a wider range of artists, many of whom aren’t household names and didn’t need a “hit” song to have a big year.