I Got 100,000 Plays on Spotify and Can’t Get Paid. Can You Help?

100,000 Spotify plays, yet no royalties for this Music Kickup artist.

So, how much are artists actually earning on Spotify?

According to the team at Information is Beautiful, unsigned artists earn $0.0038 per stream.  After 380,000 plays, they make $1,472, the monthly minimum wage in the US.  Signed artists get a slightly better amount of $0.0044 per play.

According to the RIAA, however, musicians on Spotify should expect to receive around $7.50 for 1,000 streams.  Roughly, artists earn $0.0075 per play.  So, to make $1,472, their songs would need around 192,266 total streams.

But, what happens when you don’t get paid at all, despite having over 100,000 streams?  That’s what happened to one artist who recently reached out to Digital Music News.

Why haven’t I been paid?

Last month, an artist who had 122,364 total plays on Spotify received €403.27 ($470.47).

In June, after fans streamed another artist’s songs 4.3 million times on the platform, TuneCore only sent a check for $5,078.

Today’s case is slightly different.  I’ll dub the musician ‘Artist X.’

After reading this article on average per-stream payouts for 1 million plays, Artist X reached out to Digital Music News.

Artist X uses Music Kickup, a cloud based record label for indie artists.  The label handles all contracts and rights management, along with global physical and digital distribution.

With five tracks on Spotify, Artist X has slightly over 112,017 total plays.  Yet, according to the artist, they haven’t received any royalties from the platform.

After reaching out to Music Kickup, the artist received the following reply:

The sales reports come from the stores on some months delay.  For example if you have done a release and made some sales/streams, you’ll see it on your withdrawal balance after we’ve got the reports and the royalties from the store.  As your releases are released in January you will soon see some updates for your releases.

Interestingly enough, Artist X has received payments for streams on Deezer and Google on Music Kickup.

Several months have passed and still no royalties for Artist X’s plays on Spotify.

So, for about an entire year on the platform (as well as on iTunes), the artist has yet to receive any word on what exactly happened.  Artist X doesn’t know whether the problem lies specifically with Music Kickup or the music streaming platform.

We’ll keep you updated on what happens and whether the artist will eventually receive royalty payments from either platform.

For independent artists out there, feel free to share your royalties to news@digitalmusicnews.com!  It will greatly help other artists and the industry to get a better sense of what streaming platforms are paying.



53 Responses

  1. Ray

    Good luck! If you read their info, the only way Music Kickup makes money is if they hold on to yours. It’s not in their best interest to pay artists. That’s why artists should never use them.

    • Gabriel

      I wholly agree with you. If they hold onto Royalties by say 100 artists , they will release the royalties after cashing in on the interest generated. Im currently having the same experience with an aggregator who has been taking me in circles for over a month now and the last communication with the aggregator was that they have a right of holding onto royalties for a period of 60 days before releasing the monies to artists. The aggregator’s catch to artists is that “you distribute your music for free” with them. I come from a country where 60% of the population live on/under a dollar a day so when you hold onto 500 dollars of artiste’s earnings for almost two months, you are rightfully labelled a thief.

    • Krimminol

      Use cdbaby, they get it to you ASAP, and they make sure it’s all there. I love them! -Krimminol

  2. Anonymous

    I mean…not saying the guy doesn’t deserve his money, but anything described as a “cloud based record label for indie artists” should be clicked out of immediately.

    • Michael

      Someone who has sense. There is nothing like having a real publisher, who is administering your rights, like the military prorects your country.

      Rights mean nothing without someone, by law, to protect them.

      They know you believe in fantasy, and don’t have any idea what you are doing. Don’t be lazy, as well as lazy. Publishers monitor, as well as can audit even record labels, as you have one……..
      They have power, you don’t……..skimp or get pimped.

  3. Aliem Jumpp

    I have no clue about the platform..But I can definitely say that Spotify royalties have declined for indie artists. Something is not right. One of my artists had over 200,000 streams in a quarter and she received less than $200. Deezer, Tidal, Google were all where they were supposed to be. But not Spotify.

  4. Dana Drury

    We have music on Spotify and recently noticed royalty payments from Spotify that ranged from .009-.005 cents per stream. The payments were all over the place but the result was that our music was paid at about 30% of what it should have been. We have nearly 1 million total streams on Spotify and have been shorted thousands of dollars. I asked Spotify support about it and they told me to contact CD Baby or my Pro, saying Spotify had no control over what is paid per stream! When questioned, they didn’t respond. CD Baby states that they only collect and pay the royalties, they don’t determine how much to pay for each stream. I’m still trying to get Spotify to answer. Our new material is now being distributed by Kobalt AWAL, so maybe we will see higher payments per stream on the new material. It seems to be a racket and there is no explanation as to why we would see so much variation in per stream payments.

    • ERo

      Dana Drury,

      Hi, just wondered if you had an update on your situation? Did Kobalt work out better?? thanks

    • Del

      I heard Cd baby is known for stealing copyrighted material and using artists music without they’re consent. Tunecore does the same. Don’t let a distributed become your publishing admin make that seperately also get a sound exchange account that’s half of your spotify royalties or 45% you’re missing. Cd baby uses songtrust for collecting royalties tunecore uses Harry Fox Agency HFA. Cut them out and go straight to the source

      • Nyornuwofia Agorsor

        Thanks for the insight. What is the source please?

  5. Keith Spinney

    You have got to use a comany with a good track record. There is a lot of bs out there. I’m over a quarter a million plays and I’ve never had any problems getting paid. I would say run, run hard, run fast.

  6. Curious Jim

    In the same situation with kobalt sadly a release from February with over 300k streams yet to be paid.

  7. Anonymous

    im using cd baby and having no problem, but i am just doing 30k streams a month on spotify. maybe higher streams get adjusted?

  8. Hannibal Productions

    My guess is that people leave it to their Distributor or Performing rights organization to collect their royalties but sadly they DON’T. I think people are getting this confused with PUBLISHING. When you publish your music you get MECHANICAL royalties which is for streams and downloads. Your PRO (BMI, ASCAP, ect) doesn’t collect that information. Always register with PUBLISHING and then your PRO before you DISTRIBUTE your tracks before doing anything to make sure you get your royalties from everywhere possible. Publishers register your tracks with places in the US and other societies outside the US (Mechanical royalties). But US based pros do not for the most part. That’s my only guess in why people aren’t getting their money.

    • Natural Rapper

      I am from Italy and release from here. I am not a publisher and I have not registered copyright also I am with no PRO. Is 20 months I am with musickick up and they emiitted royalties just once, have rised 10.000 plays thanks to familiars between deezer and spotify; I just few minutes ago sent an email to them asking when they will payout next royalties; but from what concern the previous royalties I found them to be rightous. Anyway Could you help me, telling me how to start a label of mine and distribute on my own without let others take “care” of it? Really thanks if you will reply

    • Del

      Right I agree and most folks don’t even have a sound exchange account

    • GR

      That’s false. Mechanical royalties are for streams and downloads, however the payments distributors are making is for Master Use licenses. Mechanicals are administered separately. PROs collect performance royalties for non-interactive streaming.

  9. Peter

    my experience with spotify after 10 million streams

    first payout delay after release: ~15Weeks
    next payout delays: 3-5Weeks

    Spotify Free Account per Stream: $0.0010 – $0.0013
    Spotify Payed Account per Stream: $0.0020 – $0.0040

    average payout per stream: $0.0027

    • Non-P

      That’s awesome but… do you get paid for your streams because I haven’t seen a check and I started in September. Also no one has said anything about them paying. Not trying to slam Distrokid but would love to see the proof. Because that would speak louder then just unlimited music uploads. Artist X has many streams for his music but no pay. Moving to another distributor with no proof that they pay wouldn’t help either.

      • .

        Yes you get paid, you can withdraw any amount from your account anytime, up to you.

      • GR

        No, Distrokid uses the distributor “cloak” keeping artists in the darkness of when their royalties are coming in as well. Some distributors pay the same services months before Distrokid, and their response is “We haven’t gotten the numbers” or “Sales haven’t been reported” but they are saying who isn’t reporting or if its their accounting system holding it up, etc. In our experience 90% of these distributors are using their middle man position to prolong royalty distributions. Distrokid INCLUDED. Remember, they now have Spotify as a partner…. People don’t trust record labels I don’t know why they think distributors and streaming platforms are on their side. It’s crazy times!

        • Jackpot

          Deep who you go to to get return on investment somebody eating

  10. J

    Perhaps these people are buying Spotify fans/plays And they don’t want to pay someone who bought a bunch of bots.

    • GR

      What do you think the record labels are doing? You think it’s a coincidence Spotify went IPO with all the majors as part shareholders? See Tidal fiasco going on right now. If the streams are reporting, and the distributor got paid…they need to pay the rights holder. Period.

    • Xmallz

      How long does it take for distrokid to give out your royalties?

  11. Tom

    Music Kickup owe me Over 6 Thousand Euros for iTunes downloads. I have been trying to get the payment for over a year, They keep emailing with excuses which don’t add up. If we all contact APPLE at itunesstorenotices@apple.com and royalty@apple.com with the links to your content and describe how Music Kickup have been withholding royalties then apple will remove there account or severely damaged.

    Please let me know how it goes.

    • GR

      Last time I checked this is embezzlement . And it’s rampant with digital distributors. Regardless of if they have an arbitration clause in their terms, they aren’t exempt from criminal acts. Get an attorney.

  12. carel

    remember take up yo 100 days to be sported you need to wait and see what hapen….

  13. LP

    The issue I have with distrokid is that if you don’t make the yearly payment they pull your music from all of the distributors. Not sure if they are still doing that however it turned me off as did the owners email sent. Very insulting.

  14. Delonte

    I got 100,409 plays on Spotify over time on one track using Tunecore but did not get paid one penny from Spotify either Spotify not paying me or Tunecore stealing money from me.

  15. Mike Twiss

    Why is there no way to go to your account on Spotify or any other platform and look at the payout from the source so you can audit it yourself?? There are errors that occur human or not and it seems shady that they don’t divulge that information.

    How can we petition effectively to make this happen?

  16. Mike1tofa

    Get a real, knowledgeable, active and experienced publisher……..there is no magic, free lunch, shortcuts or magic pixie dust to making you not do the thing the right way…………no administration, no money…………..remember, preparing in advance is everything.

  17. KTL Drank

    I got like $425 but I’m over 200 000 streams on Spotify.

  18. Laxman Gutte

    Hello, Im New and Individual Artist from Small Village… Recently I Got 1Lacs Streams on Spotify then how much i will get Money from Spotify…

  19. ...

    I’ve got around 3000$ for 700K stream on Spotify. If it can help I use Tunescore like distributor. Payment every month I think.

  20. Donald

    I’ve nbeen with music Kickup for three years with over 100,000 Plays on Spotify and never have I been paid for nor iTunes google has anyone found a resolution on getting there money