Bach Is Raking It In On Spotify

h/t to Alex Tabarrok who posted about a story on how much money classical music composers would make from Spotify streams of their music.

Using the estimate figure of $0.0037 (£0.0028) in earnings per stream, and calculating for inflation, the website revealed the following ranking of classical music’s highest paid Spotify composers.

Top 10 classical composers based on 2021 earnings

Bach: 6.7 million monthly plays, $299,329 (£222,327) annual earnings
Beethoven: 6.5 million monthly plays, $286,353 (£212,689) annual earnings
Mozart: 6 million monthly plays, $266,649 (£198,054) annual earnings
Chopin: 5.4 million monthly plays, $238, 290 (£176,990) annual earnings
Debussy: 4.6 million monthly plays, $204,259 (£151,713) annual earnings
Vivaldi: 3.6 million monthly plays, $159,975 (£118,821) annual earnings
Schubert: 2.9 million monthly plays, $127,017 (£94,342) annual earnings
Brahms: 2.6 million monthly plays, $113,871 (£84,578) annual earnings
Handel: 2.519 million monthly plays $111,832 (£83,063) annual earnings
Liszt: 2.516 million monthly plays $111,746 (£83,000) annual earnings

In case you were wondering, Bach’s “‘Prélude’ from Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major” is his most frequently played piece; Beethoven’s “‘Adagio’ from his ‘Moonlight’ Sonata No. 14,” is his most popular piece.

Tabbarok mentioned that as composers would actually get less money than reported since composer royalties are actually a smaller percentage of a play. With the possible exception of Debussy who did record his own music, the millions of plays reported are recordings by myriad entities rather than the composers. If Spotify/recording technology and the composers existed contemporaneously, a recording of their personal performances would be available for play.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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