Music Streaming Analytics — Can Artists Be Data-Driven?

Stephen Dawson
6 min readMay 7, 2019
Palace performing at the Hoxton Hall, London

When I first received an invite to join Spotify back in 2009 it did more than just open up a library of on-demand music. I could finally discover new music without hitting a payment barrier.

It was a revolution for the way I enjoyed music and quickly replaced iTunes as my everyday music player. When Spotify began to monetise the platform I was more than happy to pay a subscription.

What did this mean for artists? For the first time, data could be gathered from a larger set of users. Not just from fans who were willing to pay directly for their music but from listeners discovering their work.

Artists could see how they were performing and who was listening to their music.

Spotify (arguably) suggests that this data could be used to guide Artists.

I’m going to review some of the metrics that are (or could be) available to artists on Spotify. I'll ask what they could do with the data to what extent an artist could be ‘data-driven’.

What’s available to Artists?

See https://artists.spotify.com/

1. Streams

First things first, we can see how many times a track is played.

For some music streaming services, this translates into monetary value for the artist and will be a key measure of return for their investments.

The amount paid per stream to the artist depends on their arrangements. I’ve heard it could be a penny or even a third of a penny.

On Spotify, for a stream to be counted — the listener must not skip before 30 seconds.

2. Saves

This is a count of how many listeners add your track to their library or their playlist. In Spotify, this is done by clicking on a star icon on each track/album.

Although it does do a good job of telling you how many listeners really like your track there could be a proportion of ‘casual’ users who don’t use playlists or build a library.

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