Spotify Plots Change to Royalties Structure, With a Minimum Streams per Song Requirement for Payout

Spotify is planning to make changes to its royalties model early next year, Billboard and Music Business Worldwide (MBW) report. The reported plans will impact artists who don’t generate significant streaming numbers, anyone accused of fraudulent activity, and anyone who uploads white noise or nature sounds.

The first proposed change to Spotify’s royalties system requires for a song to hit a minimum number of annual streams before it will generate royalties. That threshold, which has not been announced or made clear, will reportedly demonetize songs that received 0.5% of the streamer’s overall royalty pool. According to MBW, that money will be redistributed through Spotify’s Streamshare royalty pot and pay out to more popular songs.

Another new change will be financial penalties to music distributors whose uploads are flagged for fraudulent activity. Non-music “noise” tracks—specifically mentioned are white noise and nature sounds—will require longer play times to generate royalties, though the specific length has not been made clear. It also hasn’t been specified how it will be determined if a track falls into that category.

When reached about the reported changes being planned, a Spotify spokesperson shared this statement: “We’re always evaluating how we can best serve artists, and regularly discuss with partners ways to further platform integrity. We do not have any news to share at this time.”

The United Musicians and Allied Workers union offered a reaction to today’s news. “Artists have solutions to fix streaming but Spotify isn’t listening,” the union shared on social media. “Instead they propose changes that will enrich the top of the pyramid even more, and make it even more impossible for working musicians to benefit from streaming.”

The Future of Music Coalition added: “This marks a serious shift away from how the service was pitched to the musician community at launch, as a level playing field that treated all tracks the same. Over time, Spotify has shifted further and further away from that pledge.”

How to Be a Responsible Music Fan in the Age of Streaming