What started as an attempt to quell content piracy, has reshaped the music industry altogether.
Spotify is more than a music streaming app, although that is where its lion share of revenue lies. With each passing day, and the acquisition it makes to both diversify & expand, the Swedish company is dictating the way global listeners consume music.
To cover it in a detailed story with all functionalities offered by Spotify is a no-brainer. We just had to do it! But at the same time, we’re also aware of staunch Spotify followers and the trivia that’s already on their tips, in which case we’ve segmented the following table of contents. Feel free to jump to a section of your liking:
All set, let’s get to it.
Content piracy has chronically plagued the performance arts industry, motion pictures & music that is. Spotify was founded with the cardinal aim to eliminate illegal distribution of records, by giving performers a platform to host their work, & be paid for it in royalties. In doing so, Daniel Ek & Martin Lorentzon (founders) opened the doors to a global avenue, the full capabilities of which are yet to be realized. But Spotify is getting there. Initially, it charged record labels a 20% upfront fee for availing its platform reach to listeners. Let’s quickly run through its timeline.
July 14, 2006 - Founded in Stockholm
October 7, 2009 - An Invite Only Release for U.K., France, Scandinavia & Spain
November 9, 2009 - Released its Nokia-only app for their Symbian Operating System
July 14, 2011 - Available for Download in U.S.A
Spotify progressed with haste sharing its code with iOS developers. That same year 2011 winded up with Spotify earnings worth $244 million, but with a loss of $60 million. A minor dip in the broader scope of development.
By June 2017, Spotify had 144 million monthly active users (MAU). It almost doubled that by the second quarter of 2019, tapping into 232 million MAUs. Of these, total premium Spotify subscribers amount to 100 million or more. At the time of writing, Spotify has a 36% share of the global music streaming industry.
As to the question ‘how many songs are on Spotify’ the streaming app hosts 50 million songs with average listeners spending 25 hours on the app per month. Investors at large, have repaid their faith, with the totality of the Spotify business valued at $26.5 Billion at the end of its opening day at the NYSE. To say the least, the Spotify net worth is staggering.
Spotify is free to download except that the user would have to fall in line with viewing ads, of which there is a lot, in-between songs with the sound quality being capped at 160 kbits/sec. As you upgrade to premium membership, the sound quality doubles to 320 kbits/sec. That is one of the significant differences in the Spotify free vs premium debate.
Spotify recommends downloading music over a WiFi network to save mobile data costs. It has three subscription slabs under the premium umbrella. The Spotify monthly cost depends on the selected slab, each of which serves a subset of the audience.
Best for sole listeners . At the time of writing, people can register with a mode of payment, upon which they get a 3-month free trial. The membership can be canceled prior to the activation of the monthly-fees without incurring additional charges. Upon the completion of the promotional period members are liable to:
The 3-month offer is valid for first-time users only. Netflix is often touted to be the inspiration behind seducing users to try out elitist in-app functionalities at no-cost The strategy is a trade-off between penetrating global markets against compromising short term profits.
Students pursuing an education at an accredited university/college could avail premium features at discounted rates. Students are eligible to:
The question - how much does Spotify cost, further depends on your place of residence. The Spotify premium cost mentioned here is subject to the USA.
This is the most remunerative give-away from the app. Up to 6 people can be enrolled living in a single location. Signed-on members get:
In the formative days of the app, people asked how much does Spotify premium cost? Then the query shifted to is Spotify premium worth it? The answer is, it sure as hell is, at least for millions worldwide as we find out in the next section.
Since information is just a click away, we tend to get finicky (me included) often Googling ‘how much data does spotify use’ or something like ‘does Spotify use data’. To your dismay, and superficial surprise, not much. Of course, the answer is inherently connected to the Audio settings you might not have bothered to check on the app (gotcha). Keep in mind, users cannot adjust music audio settings over the web player. Songs on Spotify are of Advanced Audio Coding format, better known as the AAC.
Assuming you are part of the Spotify user demographics that subscribe to premium membership, your consumption is governed as per the second set of values from the table. In which case we further subject your data consumption to the following calculations:
Low Quality (24 kbps)
Per-minute = 0.18 MB
Per Hour = 10.8 MB
At this rate, you take 92.5 hours to consume 1 GB data.
Normal Quality (96 kbps)
Per Minute = 0.72 MB
Per Hour = 43.2 MB
At this rate, you take 23.1 hours to consume 1 GB
High Quality (160 kbps)
Per Minute = 1.2 MB
Per Hour = 72 MB
At this rate, you take 13.8 Hours to consume 1 GB
Very High Quality (320 kbps)
Per Minute = 2.4 MB
Per Hour = 144 MB
At this rate, you take 6.9 Hours to consume 1 GB
So we’re in the clear now. If anyone asks, ‘how much data does streaming music use’ especially the Spotify data usage, you know what to say don’t you!
To begin with, Spotify procures licensure from record labels or any right holding body to host their work on its platform. Artists are compensated with royalties, the amount of which is further determined with algorithms that factor:
There are various other components to it, but it is confirmed about such Spotify Stats that artists get $0.006 - $0.0084 per stream. Spotify started as an invite-only application. Having now established itself, it’s now based on a Freemium model. Limited feature access for free. Spotify monetizes this slab with advertisers. The second slab is funded by premium subscribers who choose a monthly subscription from a set of 3 options Users can play the app over a variety of devices other than their phones:
Let’s take a moment to understand how the stakeholders of the app make full utilization of the ads (and their variability) to increase the aggregate Spotify revenue. Free listenership of the app comes across the following type of ads:
1. Auto Ads - They’re unavoidable and timed to be played every 15 minutes. The ad session lasts for 30 seconds which the user must wait to finish.
2. Welcome Back Ads - They appear on the screen as soon as the user returns to the app.
3. Display Ads - They appear at the bottom of the mobile screen and could be timed to disappear after a specified duration, for instance, 10 seconds or so.
4. Video Ads - They are just like auto ads, but instead of an image people see a video in between songs.
5. Homepage Takeovers - Apps allocate space on their homepage for advertisers, where brands can engage viewership.
6. Sponsored Sessions - In return for watching a video-ad, viewers are promised a 30-minute (predetermined time) ad-free streaming session.
7. Advertiser Pages - You can call them a semi-website of sorts. The page is purely ad-oriented and contains everything from clickable ads to videos and blogs . for increased user interaction.
This year (2019), prior to Spotify releasing stats regarding its quarterly performance, analysts were in a quandary regarding the direction revenues would head in. Such fears were soon laid to rest.
Spotify statistics for revenue released in Q1 of 2019 shed a glaring light on its profits from premium users (€1.51 Billion) which is worlds apart from cash flows gained from ads(€126 million).
The same figure stood at €1.5 Billion for Q4 - 2018. But the overall trajectory implies a 33% Year-on-Year growth rate. Here’s more proof of evidence supporting such Spotify statistics.
In Q1 - 2018, its gross profit stood at $317 million, whereas in Q1 - 2019 the same number was $419 million. With current gross margins at 24.7%, Spotify promises an even heavier dose of profitability in the future.
While business booms there are few concerns over the quantity of content shared and the payouts made, many considering it paltry for artists. The company has faced backlash over the question of obtaining deals with record labels with 87% of the music on the app owned by 4 labels namely Sony, Warner, Merlin & Universal. Then there is also the debate of whether Spotify should declare itself a label or not!
Of course, when the masses begin to associate their daily habits with a brand a sense of connection (& possession) weighs in, which poses a huge responsibility. Mainly to continue delivering quality & second fending off competition as we see in the later sections.
The app is exceptionally ahead of its contemporaries when it comes to user satisfaction score. A scientific method to measure the same is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). It rates a customers’ inclination to refer the service further.
A big reason for this is Spotify’s ability to customize playlists to the liking of each individual user. ‘The Discover Playlists’ are a huge fan favorite. They used to be sent to each user on a weekly basis but thanks to their popularity Spotify invested heavily and began sharing Discover Playlists regularly with spotify users.
But how does Spotify know which songs to pitch you? That’s where it’s algorithms jump in. It uses the following three models to curate songs. We’ll keep it simple for you to understand.:
Collaborative Filtering - It calibrates user behavior while analyzing track preferences. In the following example we have Ted and Randy with their choices of songs listed in the table. We can see that they both have already listened to songs A & B. Spotify will see that as a likelihood for Ted wanting to hear song D & Randy song C and that’s how song recommendation begins. Of course it involves high level computations when the sample size of user population is in millions. But that discussion is for another day.
Natural Language Processing - Its described as a computers’ ability to understand human speech and it is central to Spotify running analytics on an NLP model. It’s crawlers scan the internet for textual indications related to songs such as those mentioned on blogs, news articles and also meta-data. The program classifies adjectives into scores and then accords the same to songs. Based on the cumulative total, a song gets higher in the list for being recommended to others, based on their saved playlists.
Convolutional Neural Networks - The above two models work on absolute data while this one works on abstract. It allows Spotify to chart upcoming songs that have little to no streams. The neural networks map the entire song for characteristics such as tempo, key, mode & loudness. Once the network has x-rayed the song it then looks for songs from the database with the highest matching attributes. And this is how Spotify’s statistics illustrate the need for you to hear a new song.
Of course, content curation will be bang on when predictive algorithms know your next click better than you do. With such hellbound accuracy, users get hooked to the app and inadvertently add to their listening hours daily/weekly/monthly. Drawing from the research of Goodwater Capital, a typical Spotify listener would consume 25 hours of music/month. That was Q4-2017. Spotify listening stats illustrate that the craving for music increased for the same period, with typical Spotify subscribers listening to 40 unique artists per week.
As part of the chain reaction, this trend computed into a growing population of Monthly active users who have been talked about at the beginning of the article. But what about the user demographics? As per a survey of 3000 American music streamers conducted by Goodwater, Spotify took a huge bite off from the Under-30s listenership (2017) but lost out, only marginally, with the Over-30s.
As per research by Vetro Analytics, Spotify user statistics within the states indicate people within the age bracket of 25-34 comprising the chunk of its audience, closely followed by those between 18-24. Of these, the males seem to have found a natural liking, demonstrated more so by Spotify statistics, than the females.
As far as music is concerned, there are three types of playlists on the platform. They are content based (CN), context-based (CX) and a third kind called hybrid playlists (HB).
As the name suggests, CN is purely driven by the lyrics of the song which is why listeners are drawn to it, the CX is the type you want the reader to read between the lines, and HB is a combination of both.
‘One Dance’ by Drake, WizKid and Kyla was the first song ever to hit 1 billion streams on Spotify. As of writing, Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You is the most played song on Spotify These are the Most Streamed Songs on Spotify till date, each having more than a billion streams on the app listed in no particular order or rank.
Having uncovered the most listened to song on Spotify, let’s move on to the artists and find out who is the overwhelming crowd favorite.
The combined top 10 include 2 female artists, 6 male artists, an American Pop Rock and a British Rock Band. Sequenced by the total number of streams till date, you have Drake, Ed Sheeran, Eminem, Ariana Grande, Post Malone, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Rihana, ColdPlay and Imagine Dragons.
The top 10 have overflowing streams above 11 billion each with Drake & Ed well into their 20-billions. As we move towards 11-20, only Calvin Harris & Kanye West touchdown 11 billion with the trailers, with respect, battling it out amongst themselves in the territory of 9-10 billion. Phew!
The most prominent names in the top 3s are #1 Drake and #2 Ed Sheeran. They are followed at #3 by Eminem and #4 Post Malone whose rise to that position was no less than god-speed. The next 6 are all gold-standard performers, of course, of the music industry namely Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and XXXTentacion.
Honorable mentions include the legend of Avicii, Wiz Khalifa, Pitbull and DJ Snake whose ranks are scattered haywire from top #21 - #40.
Spotify Stats For Most Streamed Female Artists
Ariana Grande & Rihanna have broken the ground beneath them at the top reverberating records both with streams over 14 & 11 billion respectively. Closest to them is, no points for guessing, Taylor Swift with 8 billion+. Spots #4 - #6 are taken up by Sia, Nicki Minaj, and Grammy Award winner Beyonce. Selena Gomez, and breakthrough stars Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa take up positions #7 - #9 with Adele at #10.
Lady Gaga is, to the surprise of many, ranked #11, but the overall agreement is she’d go one up on Adele following her hit A Star Is Born.
Since September 2013, Spotify stats began incorporating the week’s most played songs to release charts just like the billboards of the world. 2019, began with Post Malone and Swae Lee’s Sunflower, bagging the top spot for consecutive weeks only to be dethroned by Ariana Grande’s controversial single 7-Rings, which would refuse to come-off until after 10-weeks at #1.
|Weeks at the #1
|Post Malone & Swae Lee
|I Don’t Care
|Ed Sheeran & Justin Biebe
|Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
|Highest In The Room
|Tones & I
|Lose You Love Me
Spotify stream is a function of multiple factors. It initiates with the general proclivity of a user towards a genre, built upon by predictive recommendation continuing in series of cycles. Be that as it may, it is easier (said than done) for an artist after a hit single to sway people into streaming the entire album. This hypothesis has been validated by hit singles that in turn catapulted the average streams of the album. As of November 2019, the following have been the most streamed albums till date with the recurring theme of Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, and The Weeknd.
|Total Streams (billions)
|Beerbongs & Bentleys
|In the Lonely Hour
It is intriguing to curate numbers and decipher the general stickiness of a song. In fact, the effect is representative of the global fandom of a particular artist who’ve carved fanbases in non-English speaking countries.
In the case of most streamed songs by country, as of November 2019, Ed Sheran is an intercontinental champion, gaining unrivalled fan-share in 16 country-colonies spanning from blips in Latin America, Asia and scattered more uniformly across Europe. USA & Canada belong to the duo of Post Malone and 21 Savage for their single ‘Rockstar’ whereas Danny Ocean is the all-out Latin American sensation with ‘Me Rehúso’.
The bandwagon of rivals has been quick to latch on to the aspect of leveraging already established user bases to stream music directly on parent apps. Someone who exemplifies this is Spotify’s closest U.S.-rival, the trillion-dollar company, Apple. The latter dawned on its music streaming avatar Apple Music in 2015 and in just four years has caused a dent in Spotify’s sales. In 2019 it dwarfed Spotify statistics in total paid U.S. subscribers with 28 million versus the 26 million of Spotify. Globally, the tug is still being pulled harder by Spotify as it leads Apple Music in paid subscribers with 110 million versus 56 million.
Many argue the long run will favor Apple Music as the app is pre-installed on iPhones of which there are 900 million in the world. Even if the company converts 50% of that, it would be double the total listeners that Spotify stats boast as of writing.
|Spotify (in $)
|Apple Music (in $)
Acquisitions of Shazam by Apple appear to streamline its music offering. Another step in that direction would be Apple doing away with iTunes, wherein the 18-year old service would be fragmented into 3 separate revenue streams from Music, TV & Podcasts. Apple Music will hence go head to head with Spotify for viewership across music & podcasts taking the war to Spotify’s whose been gobbling up Podcast startups like roasted chicken. Users can enjoy music across all Apple devices, including iPhones, Macs/PCs in addition to running on the Android operating system which has a total of 2 billion devices on it. You can download as much as 100,000 songs on Apple Music vs the 50,000 on Spotify.
The next big thing closest to Spotify after Apply Music is Amazon Music Unlimited. Prime users get access to 2 million songs. But if they want to expand that to Amazon’s threshold of 40 million (est.), they subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited.
Amazon Music is easily playable with voice-enabled Echo commands. The payment plans vary for non-Prime members, Prime subscribers & Echo users. U.S.A is the E-tailers backyard with the company making it count tapping into its Echo & Prime members. From 2018-2019, their music services have aggregated 32 million subscribers. Amazon Music Unlimited has grown aggressively at 70% during that time. This number beats both Apple & Spotify in terms of domestic subscribers, though speculative.
Another area where Amazon leads Spotify is the demographic of listeners 50 or above within the U.S. To write-off Amazon from the list of Spotify competitors would be a foolish mistake. Non-Prime members pay $9.99/month. If you’re already a Prime subscriber, you can avail Amazon Music Unlimited at an additional $7.99 per month.
If you can’t beat them, befriend them. This saying applies aptly to those who’ve become part of the chasing pack by default. Tencent, the Chinese conglomerate partnered with Spotify to establish a stronghold on the local Chinese music streaming market to good effect. Their best music apps QQ Music, Kuguo & Kuwo combinedly boast 700 million active users of which 120 million are paid, subscribers. Incredible Spotify stats these.
Pandora Radio entered music streaming at the cusp of the internet bubble burst. Though it has stuck true to its roots of being an internet radio, attempts to foray into music streaming on mobile haven’t born as exponential a result as with their radio arm.
That reality is even darker when compared with Spotify statistics. But rather than being a one-off scenario, this is an abject reality of the radio industry as a whole. The single, most visible reason behind it is the time it takes for singles to top a chart on either platform.
It’s no surprise that artists have a business bend towards music streaming in general over the radio, whose glory days are probably well past.
Music streaming made up for 80 percent of the revenues of the Music Industry in the first half of 2019. Of that 80 percent, the app with the highest stake is Spotify. That is telling of how fast the transition from physical music, which is by no means extinct, to digital has transpired over a decade. Having been an early entrant, Spotify is poised to go for the kill but the streaming market looks far from developing into a monopoly. If anything, we see a triopoly developing with the balancing forces of Spotify & Apple Music making strides and Amazon not far behind.
Issues with artist payout remain inherent in music streaming with Spotify taking much of the stick due to being an industry leader. But it should be looked upon as a ‘You win some You Lose Some’ deal where talented yet budding artists have a platform with outreach to millions.
While the debate is running in circles on how to best compensate a performer, nobody can deny the upliftment (much needed) that Spotify has lent to the art form itself. If not for Spotify you’d still be stuck on enquiring ‘how to stop content piracy?’. Now that’s an improvement, isn’t it!!!!