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Around a quarter of music on streaming services didn’t get played at all in 2023, new study finds

A new study has found that roughly a quarter of music on streaming services didn’t get played at all in 2023.

According to the 2023 Luminate year-end report – a company with over a 30-year history of measuring music consumption – only 10 songs from 2023 had over a billion streams globally to date.

Helena Kosinski, Luminate’s VP Head of Global, shared a visual year-end report which broke down key figures and trends of the past year. This included a look at the overall availability of “ISRCs” (which stands for International Standard Recording Codes) and how many of them are consumed.

Created in the form of a pyramid, at the top peak were the 10 tracks from 2023 that were streamed over a billion times globally to date. The bottom of the pyramid signified all of the songs that had a lack of streams.

Hand holding a smart mobile device which displays a generic media application with play, stop, pause, and skip selection buttons on a touch screen. Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial via GETTY

“We had 79.5 million ISRCs that had between zero and 10 streams last year and in fact, 45.6 million ISRCs in our system did not register a single stream in 2023,” explained Kosinski (per Loudwire). “So there is, as we all know, there is a lot of music out there and a lot of it is not getting streamed a huge amount.”

Along with the 79.5 million that were between zero and 10 streams were another 42.7 million ISRCs with roughly 11 to 100 streams. From there, there was an additional 30 million that had received between 101 to 1,000 streams over 2023.

The data shows 86.2 per cent of nearly 158.6 million songs fell below 1,000 plays on streaming services. The 45.6 million songs that earned no plays over 2023 made up 24.8 percent of the total streaming catalog.

Overall, the data supports the idea that while streaming users are being provided with endless possibilities to hear new music, they are more likely to return to songs they already stream rather than seek out new or unheard music.

Kosinski also shed light on user behaviour, noting that “superfans” are locked into social signaling, expression and artist community, signifying that a sense of belonging remains a big factor within streaming.

Headphones and Spotify logo displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on December 5, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Headphones and Spotify logo displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on December 5, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The data comes two months after Spotify confirmed that all songs on the platform must have a minimum of 1,000 streams before they can earn any royalties.

Back in November, the streaming platform shared the new regulations following weeks of speculation about the company’s new policies, including rumours that it would be making it harder for artists to generate royalties from their music.

The new amendments were outlined in a new blog post by Spotify on November 21, which noted several new policies that are being implemented in the hopes of containing the volume of content on the platform and minimising the risks of fraud.

In these new policies, it was confirmed that Spotify would be introducing a payment threshold for 2024 – meaning that songs must hit 1,000 streams on the service before they can earn any royalties.

According to Spotify data, there are around 100million songs on the service, yet only around 37.5million meet the new requirements to generate revenue.

This means that around 60 per cent of tracks will not qualify for the new threshold, although Spotify did recall that these songs make up less than one per cent of the total number of streams on the service.

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