Remember back a few years ago when many in the music industry thought that we’d never get over the 100 million total paid streaming subscriber benchmark? Remember when they predicted that Spotify had plateaued at 30 million? Remember when they opined that streaming revenue would never make up for physical product and downloads? All those predictions are looking pretty silly as we sit here in mid-2017, especially since the new figures from Spotify indicate that the company has blown past the 60 million paid subscriber mark all by itself.
Spotify has confirmed that in the first seven months of 2017 alone, the platform has increased by about 15m subscribers while Apple Music has added about 10 million. What’s more, the growth appears to be faster than ever. Spotify looks to be adding around 2 million a month.
Now keep in the mind that these are subscribers that are paying $9.99 per month, not free tier subs, which makes a significant difference to the bottom line of not only Spotify, but record labels and artists as well.
To be sure, streaming has plenty of problems, specifically how streams are assigned royalties, relatively low royalty rates (although both Spotify and Apple are among the highest payouts), and if you’re an artist, a middleman who takes a major portion of the income (the record label), but the good news is that the total revenue pie is growing. What’s more, it looks to be picking up steam.
More good news for an artist is that your music is probably on multiple streaming networks, which means you’re getting royalties not from just Spotify, but from Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, Tidal, Amazon Play Music, Amazon Prime Music, and many of the other two dozen or so smaller services around the world. Under the right circumstances (meaning if you get enough streams), that could add up into some significant income.
That being said, it’s important to keep streaming in perspective. A million streams is no longer a figure to get excited about in the new streaming economy, and you really don’t get on the radar until you hit 10 million.
The same can be said for Spotify’s 60 million subscribers as well. With 7 billion people in the world and 4 billion of them already on cell phones, 60 million really doesn’t feel like much.