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Bach on top: the classical composer worth MILLIONS on Spotify
Bach is the most streamed classical composer EVER on Spotify
Bach’s most popular composition would have earned him $24 million in 1750s money
Johann Sebastian Bach comes out on top with 6 million monthly plays, bringing in around $300.000 per year.
But what could these composers have earned if Spotify existed in their era?
Bach’s biggest stream – Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude – has been streamed more than 162 million times. At an average $0.0037 per play, and adjusted for inflation in 1750’s money (his last active year), Bach’s most popular composition would have earned him an astronomical $24.729.209.
That’s in stark contrast to his highest annual salary of just $39.000 – and more than double Ed Sheeran’s top song earnings of $10.443.694 for Shape of You!
|Composer / Artist||Biggest Hit||Total Plays||Spotify earnings (if it existed in their time)||Difference to Ed Sheeran's Shape of You|
|Ed Sheeran||Shape of You||2.822.620.126||$10.443.694,47||-|
|Johann S. Bach||Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude||162.617.279||$24.729.209,62*||+$14.285.515,15|
|Ludwig van Beethoven||Sonata No. 14 "Moonlight" in C-Sharp Minor", Op. 27 No. 2: I. Adagio sostenuto||91.297.291||$8.884.139,39*||-$1.559.555,08|
|Frédéric Chopin||Nocturne en mi bémol majeur opus 9 n°2: Ballade en Sol Mineur No.1||76.085.547||$9.616.604,46*||-$827.090,01|
|Wolfgang A. Mozart||Requiem, K. 626: Lacrimosa||57.132.868||$5.914.737,29*||-$4.528.957,17|
|Claude Debussy||Suite bergamasque: Suite bergamasque: III. Clair de lune. Andante très expressif||53.853.860||$3.471.096,69*||-$6.972.597,77|
|Georg F. Händel||Keyboard Suite in D Minor, HWV 437: III. Sarabande||51.050.442||$6.288.036,09*||-$4.155.658,37|
|Franz Liszt||Liebestraume, S541/R211 : No. 3: Nocturne in A-Flat Major||43.589.430||$4.512.639,33*||-$5.931.055,14|
|Johannes Brahms||Wiegenlied, Op. 49, No. 4 (Arr. for Cello and Piano)||31.864.060||$3.736.156,63*||-$6.707.537,84|
|Antonio Vivaldi||Violin Concerto in G Minor, RV 315 "L'estate" (No. 2 from "Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione", Op. 8): III. Presto||27.721.658||$4.149.987,65*||-$6.293.706,82|
|Franz Schubert||4 Impromptus, Op.90, D.899: No.4 in A Flat Major: Allegretto||23.213.558||$2.378.298,66*||-$8.065.395,81|
|Robert Schumann||Kinderszenen, Op. 15: No. 7 in F Major, Träumerei||22.005.823||$2.519.182,61*||-$7.924.511,86|
|Richard Wagner||Die Walkure, Act III: Ride of the Valkyries||20.353.125||$1.960.982,89*||-$8.482.711,58|
|Sergei W. Rachmaninow||Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini, Op.43: Variation 18. Andante cantabile||17.437.523||$980.686,29*||-$9.463.008,17|
|Giuseppe Verdi||La Traviata / Act 1: Libiamo ne'lieti calici||16.934.673||$1.077.098,55*||-$8.505.046,97|
|Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy||Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without Words), Book 2, Op. 30: No. 7 in E-Flat Major, Op. 30, No. 1||16.268.228||$1.930.371,67*||-$8.513.322,80|
|Georges Bizet||Carmen, WD 31, Act 1 Scene 4: No. 5, Havanaise, "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Carmen, Chorus)||12.175.145||$1.938.647,50*||-$9.366.595,91|
|Gustav Mahler||Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Minor: IV. Adagietto||9.368.453||$959.862,12*||-$9.483.868,35|
|Joseph Haydn||String Quartet No. 62 in C Major, Op. 76, No. 3, Hob.III:77, "Emperor": II. Poco adagio, cantabile||8.999.554||$711.918,72*||-$9.731.775,75|
|Igor Strawinsky||The Rite of Spring: Part One: Adoration of the Earth: Introduction||6.108.324||$146.679,18*||-$10.297.015,28|
|Claudio Monteverdi||L'incoronazione di Poppea, SV 308, Act 3: "Pur ti miro" (Neron, Popea)||3.315.724||$232.113,94*||-$10.211.580,52|
How we did it
But when multiplied by his peak monthly plays, Bach’s music brings in around $300,000 per year. The highest annual salary he earned in his lifetime, adjusted for inflation, was just $39,000.
We applied the same method to other great composers; Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt – to see how much their streams earn them in a year. Bach came out on top of them all.
Taking the idea further...
But we wanted to know more. How would Bach’s biggest stream – Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude – stack up against contemporary acts? What if Spotify existed in Bach’s era? How much would his biggest “hit” have earned him?
To find that out, we decided to benchmark Bach against Spotify’s biggest artist and biggest song; Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, which has clocked billions of plays, and earned in excess of $10.4 million.
Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major has been streamed more than 162 million times. At an average $0.0037 per play, that only gives Bach’s biggest stream lifetime earnings of around $600,000.
But, using this inflation calculator, we were able to find out what that would have earned Bach if Spotify existed in the 1750s – his last active year.
Adjusted for inflation, Bach would have earned almost $25 million for Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major – more than double Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You.
For comparison, we used the same method to measure the earnings of each top classical composer’s biggest stream. The next biggest earner was Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne en mi bémol majeur opus 9 n°2: Ballade en Sol Mineur No.1 – but at a comparatively measly $9.6 million in 1849 money.