The Spotify 1,000 streams rule: Continue or look for alternatives?

Musikbusiness 08.05.2024
Julian Angel Gastblogger

When Spotify first came onto the market, nobody was quite sure what it was. Spotify was meant to replace conventional radio by allowing its users to listen to their favorite songs directly – around the clock, as often as they like, and at a monthly price around one third less than buying a long-playing CD.

Basically, nothing has changed. Except that what many musicians had feared has now come true: For many fans, streaming is replacing the purchase of physical media. And this is precisely what self-marketing musicians in particular are feeling the effects of. Because the €10–15 that can be earned from a CD sale can be earned only with considerable difficulty via streaming portals. A fan would have to listen to a 10-track album 300–500 times for the musicians behind it to earn as much as they would from a CD or a paid download. This requires much more persuasion than selling a physical album.

At least Spotify has a discovery function, which fans can use to find and get to know new music. But do they also discover relatively unknown self-marketers? The chances are rather low. According to the Luminate Report for 2023, 86.2% of all songs available on Spotify receive fewer than 1,000 streams per year. Incidentally, that equates to €3 per song or €30 for an album – the price of two CDs.


Now here’s the kicker from Spotify: Songs that record fewer than 1,000 streams in a year (i.e., a staggering 86.2% of the material available) will no longer be remunerated. Spotify claims this is to make things more difficult for tracks that consist solely of sounds cut up into 31-second chunks – such as the ominous whale songs or simply white noise.

However, it’s obvious that eliminating time-consuming administrative work will lead to cost savings. Spotify does indeed need to start presenting its investors with profits. After all, up to 2023, it hadn’t been generating any profits.

What does this mean for musicians, especially those who market themselves? Okay – €3 more or less probably doesn’t matter in the end. Nevertheless, it is annoying that a service like Spotify also earns money from these seldom-played songs but does not want to pass any of it on to the musicians themselves.


The big question we should ask ourselves is this: Do we increase our efforts to crack the 1000 mark with every song on Spotify. Or should we look for an alternative instead?

If we look at the cost/income ratio described above, we realize that we earn considerably more money from a piece of music sold – be it a CD, a record, or a download – than from streams. And even faster. Because once you’ve bought an album, you’ve paid for it and don’t have to be constantly encouraged to listen to it again.


And that’s where a MIDiA report from last year comes in handy. According to analysts from the entertainment industry, music lovers are looking for and finding music beyond social media and streaming services. But what exactly are “real music lovers”? In the report, they were defined as people who listen to music beyond the usual trends and who are prepared to spend over USD 100 a month on it. That sounds good. Should we focus on such fans instead? And where do we find them?

The report also provided us with an answer to this question. Real fans read magazines and music blogs in which new albums are presented. And there are magazines and blogs for almost every conceivable genre. As if that weren’t enough, many of them are even divided into obscure sub-genres. This allows us to address potential fans in an even more targeted way.


And that, of course, raises the most important question: Do such blogs and magazines write about small self-marketers like us? In fact, many do, often without the unpleasant “unsigned” or “home recording” stigma. Let’s go on a search using terms like

blog, magazine, reviews, underground reviews, album reviews, website, and webzine

in connection with our musical style. In the end, we even find quite a few of them, make contact, and put together a noteworthy media campaign. With six self-released albums under my belt, I can confirm that it’s worth it.



Julian Angel

Julian Angel makes music for Hollywood films and television, mainly in the USA. He has also released and marketed six albums as a solo act and with his band project Beautiful Beast. In 2021, his book Music. Sync. Money was published. Julian has been running the website for over 10 years now. Good luck!

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