Royalties paid to songwriters by the Swedish Performing Rights Society
(STIM) for use at Spotify have greatly increased in the last year.

Swedish news site the Local reports those songwriters have received more than $512,000 in the first quarter of 2010. A spokesperson for STIM said it was an eightfold increase over the previous first quarter payout.

If that's the case, it means STIM's Q1 2009 first quarter payment for Spotify streams was $55,000. Assuming equal growth over the next four quarters, the succeeding payments would have been $96,000 in Q2, $166,000 in Q3 and $288,000 in Q4. That's a compounded quarterly growth rate of 73% for four quarters.

So, for all of 2009, STIM paid out about $605,000 to publishers for their songs' use on Spotify - that's just for the publishing side. According to the IFPI's "Recording Industry in Numbers 2010" report, Sweden had $12.9 in digital performance royalties for recorded music in 2009. It did not specify Spotify's share of that amount.

The company is also being watched as a potential harbinger in the fight against digital piracy. Recorded music revenues have spiked in Sweden, most likely as a result of tough legislation as well as Spotify's rise in popularity. In the first five months after its launch, an executive at Universal Music Sweden told Swedish Wire, Spotify had become the label's largest source of income.

IFPI figures echo this anecdotal evidence. In 2009, Sweden's digital revenue jumped to $20.4 million from $9.3 million in 2008 and $8.8 million in 2007. CD sales also turned around, rising to $13.6 million last year after falling to $11.6 million in 2008.

People are often curious about two things not covered in this news: the amount of a per-stream royalty and royalties earned by a hit song.

Spotify has been criticized for paying little to rights holders. Norweigian record label Major Racing, for example, has complained that 55,100 plays of its most popular songs resulted in only 19 Kroner (US$2.94 at current exchange rates). That comes out to about 0.005 cents per stream. Similar - albeit fishy - low figures have been reported about millions of Lady Gaga streams at Spotify. Major Racing's figures are even worse than the royalties (in the 0.02-cent to 0.06-cent per stream range) reported in April at Digital Audio Insider. But one source has told Billboard Spotify payouts have typically been about 0.5 cents per stream.