Most of the music on streaming platforms was played less than 1,000 times last year

Author Arto Mäenpää - 18.1.2024

Many independent musicians argue that they see minimal returns from streaming services, and recent statistics support their claims. A report reveals that the majority of artists available for streaming experienced less than 1,000 streams throughout the entirety of 2023.

Luminate’s 2023 Year-End Music Report indicates that a staggering 86.2% of the total catalog on streaming services, amounting to 158.6 million songs (measured using ISRCs, or International Standard Recording Codes), received 1,000 plays or fewer last year. This implies that eight out of every 10 songs go either unstreamed or are rarely streamed.

The issue arises from algorithms employed by streaming platforms, which tend to favor certain tracks, leaving others unnoticed. Mainstream artists continuously receive playtime and recommendations, while lesser-known artists struggle to break through and establish their presence. Consequently, many underground artists are now engaging in discussions and devising strategies to challenge and overcome these seemingly unbeatable algorithms.

Compounding the problem are the practices of many streaming providers. Notably, Spotify does not pay royalties for tracks that receive fewer than 1,000 plays in a year. Given that the majority of tracks fall into this category, it implies that most artists on the platform do not receive compensation. Alarmingly, 24.8% of Spotify’s entire platform reportedly received zero plays, equating to approximately 45.6 million tracks.

Addressing this issue is not straightforward, but one clear recommendation emerges. If you are a music streamer, make a conscious effort to explore and stream content from underground bands and artists. By doing so, you contribute to increasing their play counts. If these artists manage to surpass the 1,000-stream threshold, they stand to benefit from streaming revenue and receive at least some compensation at the end of the year.