Transparency in the Streaming Economy

There have always been unanswered questions regarding Spotify’s payouts to artists and how streams are calculated for royalty payment. Finally, Spotify have launched their new website ‘Loud & Clear’ which provides more clarity and transparency on the streaming economy. Artists have been put into certain categories to show each groups collective revenue share and Spotify have also created a tool that can test the number of streams or monthly listeners an artist gets in comparison to all of the other artists on the platform. I strongly recommend that all artists check out their new site and familiarize themselves with the information they have published. I have compiled the key findings from the launch that I believe are the most important to report.

Streaming Economy Explained 👇

How are royalties calculated?

Royalties in each country that Spotify operates in are calculated by using a tool called ‘Streamshare’. The tool calculates the amount of times a song is streamed and then it is divided by the number of overall streams in that market. It is important to note that the royalty payout differs in each market depending on the subscription fee and advertising revenue. 

The Categories

Spotify has broken down their professional musicians on their platform into 8 artists categories which consist of established, DIY, market movers, chart toppers, specialist, heritage, breakthrough, and songwriters and producers. There are statistics available for each of these categories to show the streaming data and trends for these artists.


These artists are established professionals with large fan bases and have successful catalogs of music. There are 34,000 established artists in total on Spotify. The statistics show that this artist group generated on average $94,000 in royalties and 608,000 average monthly listeners in 2020, while also accounting for 90% of all streams on Spotify. 


This artist group consists of innovative musicians who create their own music and record from their homes, bedrooms or even garages. There are 286,000 DIY artists in total and they generated on average $4100 in royalties and 34,700 average monthly listeners in 2020.

Market Movers

This artist group is experiencing massive growth locally while also moving into new markets and expanding their fan base. You belong to this category if your audience expanded to the following 7 markets in 2019; Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Turkey.  It has been reported by Spotify that there are 17,000 market movers in total. The statistics show that this artist group generated on average $22,900 in royalties and 280,000 average monthly listeners in 2020.

Chart Toppers

The chart toppers are global superstars who have had major success and would be considered high profile artists. It has been reported by Spotify that there are 500 chart topper artists in total. The statistics show that this artist group generated on average $3.7 million in royalties and 17.3 million average monthly listeners in 2020.


These artists and composers are innovative and entrepreneurial creators with niche audiences. They produce sounds that are in high demand in the streaming era such as sleep sounds and meditation. The number of specialist artists on Spotify are 4300 and they generated on average $36,900 in royalties and 214,100 average monthly listeners in 2020.


These artists have been around for decades and have produced many albums. Their catalogs and legacies live on in the streaming world. Spotify reports that there are a total of 2600 heritage artists and that this category has generated on average $407,000  million in royalties and 2.4 million average monthly listeners in 2020.


This group are up and coming artists who are being discovered through Spotify’s playlists and discovery features. The statistics show that there are 6900 artists in this category and they generated on average $31,000 in royalties and 282,000 average monthly listeners in 2020.

Songwriters and Producers

This group includes creative songwriters and producers who write their own music for themselves or artists. Artists who write their own music also fall under this category. Songwriters and producers own the copyrights to the music and Spotify has reported that they had a total global revenue of 1.7 billion in 2017, 2.6 billion in 2018, and 3.4 billion in 2019.

It is great to see Spotify finally give some clarity on the streaming economics and provided transparency for artists. The new launch of the website has been incredibly resourceful and beneficial to all performers. It is important for musicians to keep up to date and informed with industry news – so check out these additional resources below that were recommended by Spotify 👇 

The Digital Dollar

DiMA Infographic

Playlisting – Spotify For Artists


My Top 10 Music Podcasts Recommendations

1. Setlist

Setlist is a podcast that discusses all topics related to the music industry from copyright scandals, music business news and events. The latest episode is linked where the hosts Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review the best music of 2020, PRS collection society royalty rates and Taylor Swifts new album.

2. Dissect

Dissect is a podcast that analyses artists albums through the song lyrics to get a deeper insight into what the songs are about and understand the artist’s creative writing process. Episodes include analyses on top artists music such as Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. The episode linked is a review of Childish Gambino’s 2013 album “Because The Internet”.

3. Rolling Stone Music Now

he Rolling Stone Music Now podcast is hosted by the writers and editors of the Rolling Stone. The hosts talk about everything from the biggest stories in music history, interviews with top of the chart artists, new music and industry news. The latest episode which is linked here is called “Diane Warren: My Life in Songs” which is about the songwriters life and music throughout her career.

4. Soul Music

Soul Music is a podcast about artists and music that created a huge impact on society with their creativity, innovation and diversity. Their latest episode is about David Bowie’s single “Life on Mars” which was a huge hit during its time in the 1970s. The song explored alienation and disillusionment and has interesting lyrics. Bowie was ahead of his time and contributed greatly to the music industry, especially the genres of rock and popular music in general.

5. The Music Biz Weekly

The Music Biz weekly is a weekly podcast hosted by Michael Brandvold and Jay Gilbert. The hosts talk about all things music from news, artists, marketing and the overall business. The latest episode linked discusses how live streaming concerts is not the same as in person concerts as we know it. They chat about how the music industry has adapted during COVID-19 and what fans should consider when watching a live stream show.

6. Song Exploder

The Song Exploder podcast is hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway. It is a space where musicians deconstruct their songs to explain in depth their creative process and the meaning behind the lyrics. The artists discuss their ideas, sounds and influences. The latest episode welcomes Yusuf / Cat Stevens, a rock and roll singer songwriter. His song ‘Father and Son’ was released in 1970. He released a new version of the song in 2020, where he sings the ‘father’ part as himself now and the ‘son’ part is a recording of him back in the 70’s. Both recordings are 50 years apart which is interesting. He explains his artistic vision for this new version throughout the podcast.

7. Black Girl Songbook

The Black Girl Songbook is a new podcast on the scene hosted by Danyel Smith. She celebrates and amplifies black women in the music industry giving them the platform they deserve to reflect on their endless talent and success. The first episode is about the iconic Whitney Houston and her performance at the Super Bowl in 1991. She plays clips of her songs and tells stories about Whitney’s amazing career and accomplishments. The host reminisces on the 90’s era and the music landscape during that time.

8. Questlove Supreme

Questlove Supreme is a weekly podcast hosted by iHeartRadio. The podcast tells educational stories about music legends and pop culture. There are interviews with iconic guests such as Chaka Khan, Solange, Babyface and so much more!

9. Sound Opinions

Sound Opinions is a podcast based in Chicago that discusses the different musical genres, music history, and the most legendary artists and albums of all time. Tune into their 800th episode where the hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot discuss the show over the last few years.

10. Music Production Podcast

The Music Production Podcast is hosted by Brian Funk where he discusses everything about music production from techniques, theories, equipment, and creativity. Check out the latest episode with well known producers, Henny Tha Bizness and Kennard Garrett discuss their work with artists like Drake, Lil Wayne and Jay Z.


Music Industry Networking: The Value of Connections

Music industry conferences are a clever way to network and meet new people within your field of work. They are great places to hear industry professionals speak about different industry trends and their journeys working on the music scene. There is a lot to be learned from attending conferences from broadening your knowledge and listening to like-minded people. Connections are extremely valuable no matter what industry you’re in which is why I have compiled a list of the best music conferences for networking opportunities.

  1. Music Cork

Music Cork is a 3 day conference that has an extensive line up with a large panel of industry professionals discussing different aspects of the industry and emerging artists performing a showcase of their latest music. It is a great event to discover new music and meet the top music experts in the industry. 

Check out the promo video below to learn more!

2. Ireland Music Week

Ireland Music Week showcases Irelands best talent however, they have to be export ready.

There are so many workshops available for artists to develop their craft and learn new techniques. There is a great lineup of industry professionals offering master classes for different aspects of the music business. The networking opportunities at this event are invaluable as there are so many agents, managers, labels, and music supervisors available to chat with musicians throughout the week.

Check out the promo video below to learn more!

3. Output Belfast

Output Belfast is an amazing music conference that has so much to offer attendees from master classes in live music, recorded music, music publishing, songwriting, music and tech, and lastly, press and radio. There is a primary focus on the last 12 months with also the current state of the music industry. The conference gives musicians the tools they need to succeed and sustain a career in the music business.

Check out the promo video below to learn more!

4. IMRO (Irish Music Rights Organisation)

IMRO are Ireland’s leading collection society who distributes performance royalties to songwriters, composers, and publishers. They are also a great source for getting information about music conferences and upcoming events with industry professionals. 

Check out their events page here to keep updated on the latest news and events.


My Top 10 Music Documentaries

There has been a huge rise in music documentaries in the last few years with so many artists telling their stories. Lockdown is definitely a great time to learn more about new genres, the music industry and artists biographies. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite music documentaries that feature the most iconic artists of our generation. These artists have certainly made their mark in music culture and history.

Whitney Houston: “Can I Be Me”

Whitney Houston was a pop icon and still is to this day. The documentary shows how she rose to stardom and became extremely successful, however, it also shows the downfalls and tragedies that ended her life too soon. 

You can check out the trailer below or watch the full version on Netflix

Nina Simone – “What Happened Miss Simone?”

Nina Simone was an extremely versatile artist and she could sing a wide range of styles from jazz, blues, soul, R&B and folk. She was a classically trained pianist and found her talent for singing by accident in a late night bar. She was heavily involved in the black panther party and advocated for equal rights through her music. She used her platform to bravely speak out against the oppression the black community were facing at the time. The documentary also shows her personal struggle with bipolar disorder.
Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on  Netflix

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was a six time Grammy award winning R&B singer. She had an undeniable talent and she quickly became a star in the public eye. The documentary tells the story of Amy’s life in her own words and it is a heartbreaking story. 
Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on YouTube

Gaga: Five Foot Two

Lady Gaga has definitely made her mark within pop culture. She is known for her outrageous outfits such as wearing a dress entirely made out of meat. This documentary shows her artistry on another level with footage of the production of her album ‘Joanne’ and her performance at the Super Bowl in 2017. 

Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on  Netflix

Oasis: Supersonic

Oasis are an English rock band who were known for their anarchy behaviour and mischief attitudes. The documentary shows the band members’ relationships, family feuds and their inspiring passion for music in their own words.
Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on  Netflix

The Defiant Ones

The Defiant ones is a 4 part series documentary that tells the story of producers Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s lives. They’re both from two very different backgrounds, however, their combined love for music and their friendship is inspiring. There are a lot of high profile artists featured in the documentary such as Bruce Springston, Stevie Nicks, Bono, Eminem, Gwen Steffani and Patti Smith to name a few. I highly recommend this documentary to anyone who is passionate about the music industry, it truly was a great watch.
Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on  Netflix

Homecoming: Beyoncé

Beyoncé wrote, directed and produced this entire documentary #Queen. The documentary shows her extremely hard work during her rehearsals for her headline show at Coachella in 2018. The behind the scene footage and the level of detail that went into the show is incredible and the live performance itself was absolutely iconic. The documentary features a surprise performance from Jay-Z and Destiny’s Child who all make an appearance at the festival.

Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on Netflix

8 Days a Week: The Beatles

The Beatles are an English rock band that have had huge success and are considered one of the most influential bands of all time. The documentary shows the band during the early stages of their careers, personal interviews and their journey through their international tours which greatly impacted both their music and pop culture.  
Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on Netflix

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highway

The Foo Fighters are an American rock band and they are absolute music legends. The documentary is an 8 part series about their new album ‘Sonic Highways’. The band travels across 8 American cities to record in different studios with different producers to create something epic. The documentary features musicians such as Dolly Parton, Pharrell and even Obama made an appearance.

The Foo fighters lead singer Dave Grohl described their new music – “This is a musical map of America”.
Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on  Netflix

Miles Davis: Birth of Cool

Miles Davis is considered one of the most influential jazz musicians. His passion for music is inspiring as he said himself “It’s the first thing in my life, I go to bed thinking about it and wake up thinking about it, that’s all I live for”. His style and raw talent has definitely contributed to jazz and music culture in general. The documentary tells the story of his early life and features celebrity interviews discussing his impact on the music industry. 

Check out the trailer below or watch the full version on  Netflix


My Top 5 Live Stream Concerts

The live sector of the music industry was badly affected by COVID-19 as artists have not been able to tour or gig for the last year. However, artists really did show their resilience and adaptability to the new version of performing live through great innovation and creativity. Live streaming concerts have become the new normal for fans to attend gigs and listen to their favourite artists. Check out my top 10 live stream concerts of 2020 👇

  1. Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish was due to do a sold out world tour for 2020 to promote her recent album ‘When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’, however it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas were one of the first artists to do a live stream concert as part of a campaign called ‘Verizon: Pay it Forward’. The campaign involved established artists performing virtual concerts to raise money for small businesses struggling during COVID-19.

2. John Legend

John Legend did an at home performance as part of the #TogetherAtHome concert series.

3. Elton John

Elton John was involved in the Together at Home concert series where he performed “I’m Still Standing”.

4. Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson did a live stream concert on YouTube in honour of International Women’s Day.

5. Chris Martin

Chris Martin performed a 30 minute virtual concert as part of the #TogetherAtHome series.


Emerging Irish Artists 2021

The Irish pop Duo ‘ROOUE’ are twin sisters new to the music scene. The sisters Ro and Lou were born in London, but shortly moved to Dublin which is where they have spent most of their lives. Their music incorporates elements of dark pop melodies and electronic synth sounds. The use of harmonies and catchy hooks used throughout the song creates a dance vibe that takes over. 

The duo have described the writing process and purpose of their latest single ‘What You Want’ with a few words – “it’s about how we as women within the music industry and within everyday life  have felt the pressures to conform within societies expectations. The story line stems from our experience studying in music college, on one hand being forced to be authentic, yet being criticized when not fulfilling their mold whilst reaching our authentic sound”. 

Their new single is streaming on Spotify and their socials are linked below.

Pastiche is a Dublin based electro-pop singer songwriter. She has recently released her latest single “Chasing Down The Fame”. The song features synth sounds, lively drums, and a powerful vocal from Pastiche.

Pastiche explained the meaning behind the song – “the song addresses the idea of achieving fame as a subjective journey; it almost never looks the same. I also think that there is a difference between fame and significance. Fame is usually an accident, but you can claim your own significance. I think this track is me doing that, showcasing my sound and trying to prove that”.

Pastiche mentions how “pop in Ireland always seems to be imported. There are very few successful female Irish pop artists”. Her mission is to “break that barrier” with her music.

Her new single is streaming on Spotify and her socials are linked below.

Nathan Mac is a Dublin based singer songwriter. His style is very unique and describes it as a “cinematic pop” sound. His single ‘Better Off Without You’ currently has over 100,000 streams on Spotify. The piano. synth and drums provide pop elements to the sound with sweet lead vocals and harmonies. Nathan has featured globally on radio stations and in magazines such as HotPress magazine. Big things are on the horizon for Nathan as he begins writing his new album “Start of Something Blue”, which he hopes to release at the end of 2021. He is also working on a circus-musical film which is sure to be exceptional if it’s anything like his other works!

His single and socials are linked below.

Martin McDonnell is a singer song writer based in Dublin that started his career by busking. He played songs by Hozier before pursuing his own music and creative writing process. His latest single has been released called ‘Day by Day’. The song is about his mom being diagnosed with cancer and how they are taking things day by day as a family. Martin has donated €2000 to the Irish Cancer Society and all the proceeds of his song streams will also go to the charity. Check out his socials, YouTube and Spotify for more of his music!

Katie O’Connor is a singer songwriter based in Dublin. Her genres include pop and R&B. She released two singles in 2019. The first is called “Love From Somebody” which features pop elements. Her music is quite similiar to Ariana Grande with her lyrics and embellished vocals. Her second single was a Christmas song called “Here Tonight”. Katie studied in BIMM which is a music college in Dublin. She has performed in venues around Dublin and is definitely one to watch!

Check out her socials and Spotify below.

N.O.A.H are a modern rock band with an influence of pop and electronic music. The band established in January 2020. The band name was chosen because of the biblical story of Noahs Ark and it means ‘new beginnings’. The band said this is their core value as a group and it gives them inspiration. The band members include Ryan Hill, lead vocalist, Adam Rooney, bass guitarist and Ronan Hynes, drummer. Their latest single is called “Shine” and is streaming now on Spotify! I expect big things in the future from this band.

Check out their socials and Spotify to keep up to date for new music!