Musician Tom Rosenthal has sparked a conversation about how much Spotify pays artists per stream on the platform after talking about his viral cover of the song Home.
This is what you need to know.
Who is Tom Rosenthal - and what did he say?
Rosenthal is an English singer and songwriter currently with 2.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
He recently found success on TikTok after releasing a slowed down cover of the song Home, originally by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
The song quickly went viral on the app, and in a bid to stop a cover from being at the top of all his original songs, Rosenthal released it under the pseudonym Edith Whiskers.
In a TikTok response to someone asking if he made 38p from royalties of the song, Rosenthal talked a bit about the aftermath of having his version of the song go viral on the platform.
He said: “After the song exploded in a big way, pretty much every record label in the world got in touch, saying “Oh can we have that one, can we have a bit of that?” and I said no, you can’t.
“They said “Oh well, it’ll be a flash in the pan, and then I’m not sure it’ll go very far, you might get a few streams in the first few days then it’ll fall apart”. Well, they were wrong.
“I didn’t go with them, I was right. That means I get to keep all the money, it’s really quite a lot of money, I’m not going to lie, no point in lying.
“You can look at how much money 100,000,000 streams gets you online, the big difference is I didn’t give anything away to a record label.”
How much does Spotify pay artists per stream?
The process of calculating how much an artist makes from Spotify can be tricky. Firstly, artists aren’t actually paid directly by Spotify - instead, Spotify pays the rights holders, which are typically the record labels, distributors, aggregators or collecting societies.
These organisations then pay the artists in accordance with their contracts.
In 2020, a report from Business Insider found that Spotify has paid artists as little as $.0033 per stream, which means that artists would have to have around 250 streams to earn one dollar.
This payout rate has fluctuated over time, for example on average in 2014, it paid $.00521.
Plus, not all streams pay the same - Spotify Premium listeners pay more per stream than the free tier listeners. The pay-per-stream system also varies based on what country a listener is from.
In a 2020 report from music distributor iGroove, UK listeners pay $0.0049 per stream, whereas listeners from the US pay $0.0035 per stream.
“Spotify keeps 30% of all revenues generated. Of the remaining 70%, a part is paid for the songwriters and composers and the rest goes via label or distribution to the rights holders of the song.
“From the remaining share it’s calculated how many streams there were in total and how high the share of each artist is. Assuming there were one million streams per month and you have achieved 1,000 streams, you will receive 0.01%,” iGroove explains.
In an effort to be more transparent with artists and listeners, Spotify launched Loud and Clear to answer some of the most frequently asked questions it gets.
The site states: “Artists deserve clarity about the economics of music streaming. This site aims to increase transparency by sharing new data on the global streaming economy and breaking down the royalty system, the players, and the process.
“Artists want the opportunity to make a living from their work. We want that, too: Although more artists than ever are finding success through streaming, we’re nowhere near done, and we’ll keep pushing to grow the industry.”
It claims that as of 2020, Spotify has paid over $23 billion in royalties to rights holders and that last year, Spotify accounted for more than 20% of recorded music revenue.
Roughly how much did Tom Rosenthal earn from the song?
Since Rosenthal did not sell the song to any of the record labels that got in touch with him, he got to keep all the money generated from the tune.
On Spotify, the song Home by Edith Whiskers (Rosenthal’s alias) has had 100,326,181 streams at the time of publication.
A number of online Spotify royalties calculators, including Streaming Calculator, Streaming Royalty Calculator, Music Fibre and Music Gateway, have estimated Rosenthal’s earnings to land somewhere between $3,400,000 and $4,500,000.
In the UK, that’s roughly between £2,450,000 and £3,250,000.
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