Resource, Recommended Reading

How Spotify Streams Turn Into Royalties

Songtrust Staff
Songtrust Staff on Oct 24, 2011

Collect royalties from Spotify with Songtrust

Since its recent launch in the US, Spotify has left listeners elated, with unprecedented open-access to tracks from independent and major labels. But if you’re an artist or songwriter, you may be wondering how those Spotify streams turn into royalty payments and ultimately end up in your back pocket.

There are music publishing royalties generated from each stream on Spotify. Capturing each of these will help maximize your earnings.


Songtrust gets you paid all your Spotify money. Find out how!


Performance Royalty

The public performance or broadcast of a musical work generates a performance royalty for the songwriter and publisher. These royalties are collected by performing rights organizations (PROs) - ASCAP, BMI, SESAC. Your songs must be properly registered with a PRO to be paid this royalty. For those new to the music biz and yet to register with a PRO, Songtrust can streamline the process and maximize your relationship with each.

Performance royalties are based on each songwriter’s ownership share of the song. For example, if you play in a guitar-and-drums garage rock duo, and both members contributed equally to the song, the ownership shares would be 50% and 50%. However, the ratio can vary depending on an agreement between songwriters to weight the shares in favor of a primary writer.

The performance royalty is also split and distributed equally between the songwriter(s) and the publisher(s), with each being allocated 50% of the performance royalty pie.  Depending on what type of deal you have with your publisher (administration, co-publishing, income particiapation) you may actually only see a portion of those performance royalties.  Songwriters that handle their publishing rights through Songtrust will see 100% of the publisher's share of performance royalties distributed back out to the writer(s).

Mechanical Royalty

These royalties are generated when your songs are reproduced, retransmitted or rebroadcasted.  This occurs when outside parties license your songs for physical albums, digital downloads and interactive streams. In the case of Spotify, the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) provides customized administrative services and issues mechanical licenses on behalf of its 45,000+ represented music publishers.

HFA collects the mechanical royalties owed by Spotify to the publishers for the use of their music on the service, and then pays that money to each publisher. If your songs do not have a publisher, Songtrust is able to collect on behalf of songwriters without a publishing company - saving money, time and hassle. Alternatively, you can start your own publishing company and register with HFA to collect mechanical royalties.


Songtrust can collect Spotify royalties and much more. Get started!

Related Articles

Music Publishing 101: Webinar Recap

This week we held another webinar - Music Publishing 101 - to dive into the major themes of music publishing that may still be a bit confusing to songwriters and creators. Hosted by Songtrust's own Julia Pernicone, Publishing Operations Manager, CJ Olivieri, Client Acquisition Manager, and Kyle Thiede, Associate Director of Publishing Operations, we covered topics from publishing deals to understanding PROs, copyrights and royalties. The turnout was tremendous and those that attended asked a lot of excellent questions.

Jul 13, 2018

Financial Planning for Songwriters

Professional songwriters and musicians can potentially make more money today than ever before, however, that doesn't automatically mean they're going to be set for life. We've all seen the hard-luck stories of big stars who somehow wound up penniless after a series of setbacks. Over the years, how many top selling artists have declared bankruptcy - sometimes more than once - to manage debts that exceed their incomes?

Jul 10, 2018

Seven Ways to Get More Streams

Beyonce might say she doesn’t care about streaming numbers, but as a beginning songwriter and musician, it’s important to utilize every avenue to earn more royalties. If you want to earn more streams - on the way to your big breakthrough - here is a brief list of ways you can boost your streams and attract more listeners.

Jul 5, 2018