“See How Much Every Top Artist Makes on Spotify” reads the headline to Time’s latest article about the streaming service. Well, no. “One central mystery in the drama: just how much do artists make when their songs are played on the service? We used Spotify’s stated payout range – $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream – to calculate how much the top 50 songs streamed globally earned artists in 2014,” explains the piece, with a chart outlining the top-earning songs on Spotify from each month this year, as well as for 2014 as a whole. And it’s interesting data: Calvin Harris’ ‘Summer’ has generated a payout of between $1.2m and $1.7m by those calculations, with Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ and John Legend’s ‘All of Me’ close behind on $1.2m – $1.6m. But anyone involved in the music industry will have spotted the flaw in how the data is being presented: these aren’t payouts to artists, they’re payouts to rightsholders: labels and publishers, who’ll then pass them on to artists and songwriters according to their contractual terms. That’s the central mystery, and it remains mysterious.

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