Over the past year, concerns have been raised within the music industry regarding the overwhelming volume of tracks flooding streaming services. There is apprehension that the pro-rata royalty system is diluting the share of royalties for professional and popular artists due to payments being spread across low-quality tracks. Additionally, fears exist that high-quality artists may be overshadowed by the vast influx of new material, especially with reports indicating around 120,000 new tracks being uploaded to streaming platforms daily.
These concerns have prompted leading streaming services, including Spotify, to adjust their policies. Starting from the first quarter of 2024, Spotify has decided not to pay royalties to tracks that garner fewer than 1,000 plays on its platform within the previous 12 months. This move appears influenced by Universal Music Group‘s ‘artist-centric’ approach.
According to a recent report from market monitor Luminate, a staggering 152.2 million tracks received 1,000 or fewer plays on audio streaming services in 2023, constituting 82.7% of the 184 million measured tracks. Even more noteworthy is that 45.6 million tracks received zero plays in 2023, accounting for 24.8% of the total tracks available on audio streaming platforms. This means almost a quarter of the entire music catalog on streaming services went unplayed last year. Luminate had previously reported around 38 million tracks with zero plays in 2022, indicating a 20% year-on-year increase in 2023.
Further analysis shows that 79.5 million tracks, slightly over 43% of all available tracks, received 10 or fewer plays on audio streaming services in 2023. This statistic contributes to the shift in audio streaming services toward ‘artist-centric’ payment models, favoring artists with larger streams and aiming to de-monetize unpopular tracks earning minimal royalties annually.
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