Are there really only 200,000 professional artists on Spotify?

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What you'll learn in this post:
  • Why Spotify thinks they only have 200k professional artists on their platform
  • The vast majority of artists have less than 50 monthly listeners
  • More than half of all songs have less than 500 streams

When Spotify reported in their Loud & Clear update that only 200,000 artists on their platform are professionals, it certainly raised s eyebrows and drew to criticism. Of course, Spotify didn’t base this on people’s vocals, rap skills, how well they can play their instrument, or the quality of the songwriting. What they mean is artists who make good music and/or know how to market it properly and who can thus reach a certain audience. This is how Spotify seeks to justify why only 52,600 artists were able to generate more than 10,000 USD.

Spotify pointed out that out of the 8 million artists who release music on their platform, 5.4 million uploaded fewer than 10 tracks. Additionally, before the pandemic, there were reportedly 199,000 artists who performed in live shows. These are both arguments that certainly give us some pointers, but they are also a little flawed. There are many artists, for instance, who don’t list their gigs on Spotify or who don’t go on tours even if they got plenty of listeners. The Beatles or Amy Winehouse certainly aren’t going on tour despite their number of fans.

Only half a million artists with more than 1,000 listeners

What’s more convincing are the monthly listeners which indicate whether an artist is marketing their music well. The Loud & Clear page shows us that there are 1.731 million artists with more than 50 monthly listeners. Or, to put it different terms, around 6.27 million artists reached fewer than 50 million listeners every month. 558,000 artists reached more than 1,000 listeners, while 214,000 artists were ablet to cross the 10,000-listener threshold, which is right about where Spotify sets the benchmark for professional artists.

If you have more than 100,000 monthly listeners, you’ve made it into a club of 53,000 artists, which would be congruent with the 52,600 artists who generated more than 10,000 dollars.

Here are the exact numbers:

Monthly listenersNumber of artists
Under 506,269,000
50-100389,000
100-500609,000
500-1,000175,000
1,000-5,000264,000
5,000-10,00080,000
10,000-50,000131,000
50,000-100,00030,000
100,000-500,00038,000
500,000-1,000,0006,000
1,000,000-5,000,0007,000
More than 5,000,0002,000

More than half of all songs have less than 500 streams

Let’s now take a look at the individual songs. According to Spotify, there are 78.4 million songs on the platform (82 million including podcasts). Out of these, 22.37% or 17.54 million tracks were streamed fewer than 100 times. 38.69 million songs reached 500 streams since their upload, which in turn means that more than half of all the songs on Spotify have fewer than 500 streams to show. Only a little more than 20% of songs generated more than 5,000 streams and 4.36% of songs broke the 100,000 stream-mark.

All-time StreamsNumber of songs
Under 10017,540,000
100-50022,170,000
500-1,0007,950,000
1,000-5,00014,330,000
5,000-10,0004,400,000
10,000-50,0006,860,000
50,000-100,0001,730,000
100,000-500,0002,220,000
500,000-1,000,000481,000
1,000,000-5,000,000525,000
More than 5,000,000194,000

Whether or not you should set the number of professional artists at 200,000 remains a matter of contention. But the number is not entirely absurd, since there really are only a limited number of artists and songs that can find an audience. In summary, one could say that there are countless tracks coming from a multitude of artists that are rarely or never played and that are essentially just taking up space on the server (and incurring costs).

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