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Spotify Royalty Study: Premium vs Free User Pay Per Stream

Spotify has premium plans and free ad-supported plans. Did you know that the amount of money you get paid per stream on Spotify varies depending on if the user listening is a premium user vs a free user?

That’s right, not only does the exact value of a stream vary each month, and by country, but it also varies depending on what plan the user is on. This is why people say the average Spotify payout is $0.002 to $0.005 and not just a fixed number – it never stays the same.

I was personally interested in which countries had the highest percentage of premium users. Also, how much on average did premium streams pay compared to free ad-supported streams.

Take a look at this infographic I made:

Premium vs free user pay per stream on Spotify study infographic by Andrew Southworth

The first chart shows the percentage of premium streams by country for this particular dataset we used. To keep things simple I calculated this for 6 countries that represent three different ‘tiers’. The USA, UK and Canada I would call tier 1 or green light countries. This is really based off of the GDP and also the cost of advertising in each country. Brazil and Mexico i’d call tier 2 and India i’d call tier 3 or 4.

You’ll notice that the US and Canada have over 80% of streams from premium users. Brazil, Mexico and UK are in the 60-70% bracket, and India has around 22% premium users. If you’ve ever tried targeting India in a Facebook ad conversion campaign this is probably no surprise to you.

The donut graph shows the average distribution of premium vs free streams across the entire dataset. Overall 77% of the streams from this dataset were from premium users. I was honestly shocked how high this number was. Keep in mind though, the country distribution of the data will cause this number to vary dramatically.

We calculated that premium streams payed on average 2.2X higher than free ad-supported streams. However I need to add another caveat – this is for the entire batch of data. The actual difference in premium vs free streams in payout varies country by country as well in our dataset. For some countries it was 12X, and others it was 1.1X.

If you want to see how much Spotify paid me for one of my songs that got 1.5 million streams, click this link.