Ever wonder how and when Spotify updates play counts on tracks? Our new Spotify clients certainly do. One of the services we provide are royalty eligible Spotify plays, so we are asked frequently how the play counter works and when new plays will show up on Spotify.

As you may know Spotify does not update the number of times a song has been played in real time. In fact the whole process is a bit obscure and not very well documented to begin with. On top of that there’s a ton of conflicting and inaccurate information available regarding when play counters get updated. Most of this misinformation can be found on the Spotify community forums, which is a bit ironic considering Spotify’s technical support actually refers you to their community forums to find a solution, or they will tell you that there is no set time frame when updates occur.

Trust me, I know because we contacted their support team to get a definitive answer once and for all and this was their response:

“Thanks for getting in touch. We understand you wish to know how often the updates on a specific track works.

Currently, there’s no specific time frame on when the updates take place. However, we’re always looking to improve Spotify in any way we can. We can’t say now if or when any specific release will be out, but as soon as we’ve got something to announce, we’ll let everyone know on the Spotify blog.”

What We’ve Determined

From our experience Spotify usually pushes updates on a daily basis like clockwork. The support agent’s response was obviously inaccurate and not the response we were hoping for. Not fully understanding why all the secrecy I have decided to shed some light on how exactly Spotify currently updates its play stats.

The first thing to note is that the plays seen on tracks and monthly listeners are two separate statistics that are both updated every 24 hours (usually); with each having its own scheduled update time. Spotify also updates the play counts of its entire library all at once, meaning all tracks get updated at exactly the same time. Occasionally these updates do get delayed for an additional 24 hours, which is why sometimes you will not see a change to play counters for two days. But these delays do not happen often and if it does none of the tracks in the entire Spotify library are updated (all tracks get updated together or not at all).

Play Counter Updates

Take a look at this image of Calvin Harris’s Spotify library.

Calvin Harris Play Counter 1

Notice that the most popular song has over 511 million plays with 30.546 million monthly listeners. If you take a closer look at the next image you’ll notice that the most popular song now has 513 million plays with the same number of monthly listeners.

Calvin Harris Play Counter 2

Why did one change and not the other? As I mentioned earlier both stats are updated at different times of the day.

Now if you take a look at this last image you’ll notice that the play counts are still the same, but the monthly listeners have dropped by 10,000. We just saw all those play counters increase by the millions, it’s not the end of the month, and now you may be wondering why the monthly listeners did not increase by a more significant number.

Calvin Harris Play Counter 3

Well, keep in mind that Spotify listeners represent the total number of unique people who have listened to a particular artist. Listeners are not the same as plays. For example, if I played a song ten times the artist would eventually gain one listener and ten plays from me.

Monthly listeners does NOT track the number of month to month listeners (ex. NOT September to October) and this stat never gets reset. This statistic simply records the total number of listeners over the last 30 day period, which is why these numbers increase and decrease on a daily basis.

I know there have been a ton of questions regarding how and when Spotify play counters get updated with no real answers to be found. But hopefully this has cleared things up for anyone left wondering how the heck Spotify updates everything.