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Spotify names top musician of the decade as streaming compensation fight looms

Spotify (SPOT) recently released its most-streamed artists of the decade, as a battle is brewing over how much artists should be paid for the popularity of their music on streaming platforms.

According to Spotify, Drake topped the list with over 28 billion streams over the last 10 years, followed by Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, Ariana Grande and Eminem, respectively.

Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ was the most streamed song of the decade with 2.3 billion streams. Meanwhile, Post Malone dominated 2019 by locking in an impressive 6.5 billion streams, on his way to becoming the most-streamed artist of the year.

The data comes at a time when music streaming services have skyrocketed — with revenue growth reaching double digits in recent years as Spotify leads the way, capturing 36% of total U.S. subscribers.

Spotify leads the way in music streaming market share (Source: MIDiA Research)

But the fast-paced shift in the industry has also resulted in more challenges — especially when it comes to artist compensation. Taylor Swift famously pulled her “1985” album, along with the rest of her catalog off of Spotify back in 2014.

The “Shake It Off” singer explained her concerns in a previously published Wall Street Journal op-ed, writing, “Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.”

Taylor Swift famously pulled her album off of Spotify over artist compensation concerns back in 2014.

Swift eventually rejoined the platform in 2017, but similar issues remain. Musicians are struggling to see income due to Spotify’s ‘pro rata’ model — in which the streaming service receives about 30% of the total subscriber’s fee.

Critics argue the model automatically alienates smaller groups and bands who don’t have the backing of a big label to pump up streams — in addition to taking power away from the consumer, who has no say as to where his or her money lands.

Artists struggle to see streaming income with Spotify's 'pro rata' model (Source: Digital Media Finland, 2017 Study)

Stadiums a lucrative model

While the debate surrounding streaming compensation looms within the music industry — one revenue driver that’s remained consistent are stadium tours.

Forbes released its highest paid musicians of 2019 report on Friday — with Swift capturing the title after earning an impressive $185 million, thanks to the tail end of her most recent tour.

Kanye West snagged the number two spot with $150 million, while Ed Sheeran, The Eagles and Elton John rounded out the top five. The latter reaped the rewards of a heavy slate of gigs and a farewell tour, according to the outlet.

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance.

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