Only 1% of artists represent 90% of listenings on streaming plateforms
Music Streaming Apps panel. 2020 - Credits : Business Insider

Only 1% of artists represent 90% of listenings on streaming plateforms

Alexandre Trochut

Only 16,000 artists on the 1.6 million registered on streaming platforms have secured 90 percent of listeners’ plays, per analytics firm Alpha Data.

The analytics firm Alpha Data recently disclosed the telling statistic in an analysis made with Rolling Stone Mag of the contemporary streaming landscape, the upper 10 percent of artists (160,000) claimed 99.4 percent of the music streaming, leaving .6 percent of the plays to 1.44 million members of the music community.

Even worst, the top 10% of artists (almost 160,000) represent 99.4% of those streams ! Which means that more than 1.4 million artists are scrapping for 0.6% of streaming plays.

“Almost half of the artists analysed saw fewer than 100 streams.”

– Rolling Stone

Those datas chimes with Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek who told in March 2018 that 43,000 artists represented for 90% of its streams for three million artists on the platform.

No more recent updated numbers have been yet communicated but for 3 million, that would mean just over 1.4% accounted for 90% of Spotify streams, assuming the number of artists has grown, it’ll be closer to Alpha Data’s 1% statistic. This tremendous imbalance result is especially relevant because of the low per-play compensation given by Spotify and other streaming music platforms.

A poorly royalty rate

Spotify’s current royalty rate is roughly between $.003 and $.005 per stream. Approximately 40,000 new tracks are published on Spotify everyday.

This cause an amplification of the competition within the remaining 99 percent artists for a minute portion of overall listens. Furthermore, streaming’s non-stop growth also means that the most popular artists (in play volume) will probably get even more income in the next years.

Last month, London-based company AWAL (Kobalt Music subsidiary) claimed that “hundreds” of its musicians bring home in excess of $100,000 from streaming incomes annually & specified that “dozens” of its artists – which the roster includes deadmau5 for example  – receive $1 million or more in streaming royalties yearly.

Towards a general musical culture impoverishment?

Beyond the political & social issues which these inequalities cause, they create above all a general and systemic impoverishment of musical culture. Because if more and more people listen to less and less different music and that in the end we all listen to the same artists, how then to discover new talents and then allow each musical movement to evolve as it has always been the case in the history of electronic music?