Spotify Royalties

How are royalties calculated on Spotify?

By Maxence Pepin

09 May, 2024

As an artist, understanding how royalties are calculated on streaming platforms, especially industry giants like Spotify, is essential. In this article, we'll dive into the ins and outs of Spotify's royalty calculations, the factors affecting royalty rates, and how artists can increase their earnings on the platform. We'll also compare Spotify's royalty rates to those of its main competitors, Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music.

Understanding Spotify's Royalty System

Spotify's royalty system can seem a bit complex for newcomers, but breaking down each component will provide a comprehensive understanding. The royalty calculation system relies on the number of streams, Spotify's overall payout pool, and the importance of an artist's market share in royalty distribution.

As a music streaming platform, Spotify has become a popular choice for music lovers worldwide. With over 356 million active users as of June 2021, the platform has a massive audience base. However, the question of how artists are compensated for their music on the platform remains a topic of debate.

The role of streams in royalty calculations

At its core, Spotify's royalty calculation is based on an artist's total number of streams. A stream is counted when a user listens to a song for more than 30 seconds. This count helps determine the overall percentage share of an artist's music in comparison to the entire platform's total streams. Basically, the more streams an artist accumulates, the higher their cut of the total payout pool.

For instance, if an artist has 1 million total streams and the platform has 1 billion total streams, the artist's percentage share would be 0.1%. Therefore, the artist would receive 0.1% of the total payout pool.

How Spotify's payout pool works

Spotify's payout pool is the total amount of money allocated for royalty payments each month. To determine this, Spotify takes 75% of its gross revenue and divides the amount proportionally among all the artists based on their respective streaming percentages. This payout method ensures that artist royalties are directly tied to their streaming performance and determined by their engagement with fans.

It's worth noting that the payout pool can fluctuate each month depending on the platform's revenue and the number of streams generated by all the artists on the platform. Therefore, an artist's earnings can vary from month to month.

The importance of market share in royalty distribution

Market share is crucial when calculating royalties on Spotify. An artist's market share is determined by taking their total number of Spotify streams and dividing it by the entire platform's stream count. This value forms the basis for the distribution of royalties among artists. Consequently, having a higher market share will result in a larger slice of the royalty pie.

However, it's important to note that market share is not the only factor that determines an artist's earnings. Other factors such as the artist's record label deal and the type of Spotify account used by listeners can also affect an artist's earnings.

In conclusion, understanding Spotify's royalty system is essential for artists who want to make a living from their music on the platform. By focusing on increasing their total number of streams and market share, artists can increase their earnings and achieve success on the platform.

Factors Affecting Royalty Rates

Beyond streams and market share, several other factors influence the royalty rates artists receive on Spotify. Subscription plans, geographic location, and advertising revenue all contribute to an artist's earnings. Let's dive deeper into these factors and how they impact royalties.

Subscription plans and their impact on royalties

Spotify offers different subscription plans, including free ad-supported plans alongside premium, ad-free options. Royalties from paid subscriptions are typically higher than those generated by free-tier streaming, as premium plans directly contribute to an elevated payout pool. This means that artists who have more listeners on premium plans will earn more royalties. It's essential for artists to be aware of this when analyzing royalty rates.

Another factor to consider is the conversion rate from free to premium subscriptions. If an artist has a high number of listeners on the free plan, but few are converting to premium, their overall royalty rates may be lower. This is because the majority of their streams are coming from the lower-paying free plan.

Geographic location of listeners

The geographic location of an artist's listeners also plays a significant part in royalty calculations. Since royalty rates are based on the revenue generated in each country and due to the varying subscription fees among countries, an artist's royalties may differ depending on the listener demographics. An artist with a large global reach will experience diverse royalty rates across various regions.

It's important to note that some countries have a higher subscription rate than others, which can impact an artist's overall royalties. For example, if an artist has a large following in a country where the majority of listeners are on the free plan, their royalties may be lower than an artist with a smaller following in a country where the majority of listeners are on the premium plan.

The role of advertising revenue in royalty calculations

Advertising revenue is a key factor in royalty calculations for artists supported by free-tiered Spotify users. The revenue generated by the ads displayed to these users gets distributed among artists based on the number of ad-supported streams. While ad-supported royalties are generally lower than subscription-based royalties, they still represent an important part of an artist's earnings.

It's worth mentioning that the type of ads displayed can also impact an artist's earnings. For example, if an artist's music is frequently played during ads for high-paying advertisers, their overall royalties may be higher than an artist whose music is played during lower-paying ads.


As we can see, there are several factors that impact an artist's royalties on Spotify. Subscription plans, geographic location, and advertising revenue all play a role in determining an artist's earnings. By understanding these factors, artists can make informed decisions about their music distribution and promotion strategies to maximize their royalties on the platform.

How to Increase Your Royalties on Spotify

Now that you have a better understanding of how royalties work on Spotify, it's time to uncover some strategies to increase your earnings. Boosting streams, expanding your listener base, and collaborating with other artists are essential tactics for maximizing revenue potential.

Tips for boosting your stream count

One of the most effective ways to increase your royalties is by driving up the number of streams. Some tips for boosting your stream count include engaging with your audience through social media, promoting your music on relevant playlists, optimizing your artist profile, and using Spotify's promotional tools like Spotify for Artists and Spotify Ad Studio.

Strategies for expanding your listener base

Expanding your listener base is another vital strategy for increasing your royalties. Collaborate with local and global musicians, attend music industry events, and engage with your followers through social media to drive new listeners to your Spotify profile. Additionally, make the effort to connect with influencers and music bloggers who can help promote your work and potentially tap into new audiences.

Collaborating with other artists to increase exposure

Collaborations can help increase your exposure on Spotify, leading to more streams and subsequently, higher royalties. By working with other musicians, you can benefit from cross-promotion and tap into your collaborator's audience. Collaborations also provide creative opportunities and networking potential, so don't hesitate to reach out to artists whose work you appreciate.

Comparing Spotify Royalties to Other Streaming Platforms

When discussing royalties, it's crucial to compare Spotify to other popular streaming platforms like Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music, to see how they stack up against each other.

Apple Music vs. Spotify

Comparing Apple Music and Spotify, artists generally earn higher royalties from Apple Music. This is because Apple Music only offers a paid subscription model, whereas Spotify's ad-supported free tier results in lower average payouts. However, Spotify's large user base can balance this difference with more substantial exposure and growth opportunities.

Tidal vs. Spotify

Tidal is known for offering higher royalty rates than Spotify, but it also has a smaller user base. This means that while an artist may earn more per stream on Tidal, the overall revenue potential may be lower due to the limited audience size. However, Tidal is artist-owned and emphasizes fair compensation, so the platform can be a viable option for musicians prioritizing royalty rates over exposure.

Amazon Music vs. Spotify

Amazon Music, like Apple Music, offers higher royalty rates than Spotify due to its lack of a free, ad-supported tier. Though the payout per stream is generally better on Amazon Music, the platform's smaller user base might limit overall revenue potential. As a result, artists should consider this trade-off when comparing Amazon Music to Spotify.

In conclusion, understanding the mechanics of Spotify's royalty system is key to maximizing your earnings and achieving success in the music industry. With this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to strategically plan your music releases, promotions, and collaborations to take full advantage of what Spotify and other streaming platforms have to offer.

Maxence Pepin
Written byMaxence Pepin

Maxence has amassed over 50 million streams as an independent artist before working as a business development manager for an indie dance record label.