Why are my streaming numbers higher than my royalties?

When I look up Spotify streaming numbers in Trends on my Royalty Dashboard, I find that they are sometimes higher than the numbers reported in my Royalty Statement for the same period. Why is that?

You will notice that if you look at the Trends under the Royalty Dashboard part of the Content Portal and run a search on a certain full month, the total number of streams you get reported coming from Spotify for that month equals a certain projected royalty amount, whereas the actual Spotify royalty amount for the same month in your statement (and in the Royalty Analytics section) can be much lower.

As such, it's easy to conclude that peaks in streams (across any DSP) do not always get reflected in the actual royalty payment you receive.

First of all, let us assure you that the actual royalties you receive are a correct reflection of the numbers that get reported to us by the DSPs and the royalties they actually pay us. The royalty calculation system is watertight.

Then why the discrepancy?

This is caused by one of the following factors, or a combination thereof:

  • In 2021, Spotify revised revised their Bulk API, which we use to gather trend data. This was mainly done for privacy reasons following GDPR legislation (we used to recieve the postal code for each stream, for instance), but the trends also started to include data that was normally not included, such as non-revenue streams. These include streams that Spotify will demonetize, such as streams they later deem to be artificial (see explanation) or repetitive playbacks by the same user.
  • Trend data is a "snapshot" of the previous 24 hours, delivered to us in bulk every night. This data is processed fully automatically without any human interaction and as such do not correct bogus numbers caused interrupted or disrupted feeds. This can cause spikes or drops in reported data that do not reflect the actual numbers.
  • User behaviour can cause streams to be reported which will actually not be monetized or monetized to a lesser extent, such as skipping early in the song, repeated playbacks of the same song by the same user etc.

For now, there is not much we can do about this, but we are building tools to detect issues with bulk API delivery, and automatically re-import certain days' data. We are also working on features that allow users to disable non-revenue-streams from view/analysis and include things like skiprates etc. This will undoubtedly reduce the difference between trend data and royalty statement numbers.

However, there will always be a discrepancy due to the nature of trend reports, especially when we will include trend data from other DSPs, as more and more of them start reporting daily trends. That's why you cannot use trend data to calculate prospective royalties!
Your royalty statements are always correct though. Royalty processing is a partly manual procedure, where we download the statements and process them via a secured protocol.
Before we publish statements we run a great number of checks to make sure every cent we recieve from the DSPs is accounted for and exactly matched to the reported streaming numbers.

Therefore, your statements are an accurate reflection of the actual monetizable performance of your catalogue and do not include "pollution" that has no bearing on your royalty proceeds.