Here's What a Million Spotify Plays is Worth, According to its CEO

By Gerald Lynch on at

One million streams on Spotify is worth between $6,000 and $8,400 (or £3,987 to £5,582), according to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. That's compared to a royalty rate for the same number of streams of $3,000 from a generic "video streaming service", $1,300-$1,500 from a generic "radio streaming service" and $41 from US terrestrial radio.

Depending on the deal the artist in question has cut with their label in regards to streaming royalty rights, there's a good chance that the actual cash going into the accounts of musicians could be considerably less, too.

"I can't answer for what any individual gets in the end due to all variables (labels, publishers, collecting societies)," clarified Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek in a tweet.

"But to say that we stand by our numbers per million streams that we've published on our artist site."

Ek's stats were questioned by some Twitter users, who pointed to a tweet by Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame, who had earlier claimed to have received a paltry £1,700 after tax for 34,000,000 million streams of his music from various services, including Spotify. However, Ek pointed out that Spotify "[doesn't] pay artists directly. We pay around 70% of all of our revenues to labels, publishers and CS [...] so what artists get in the end is based on their deals."

It's...not a lot, any which way you cut it. But if true, it does compare favourably to royalty rates from other services. Regardless of comparative rates however, the numbers from both Spotify and Geoff Barrow show the relative devaluation of music, both industry wide and in the eyes of consumers. Whether a million streams is worth £4k, or 34,000,000 streams is worth just £1,700, we've got to a dangerous tipping point where it's simply becoming just too difficult to justify a career as even a modestly successful musician or songwriter. And that's a sad, sad thing. [@Danielek]