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What Streaming Music Services Pay (Updated for 2019)

Posted on December 15, 2017
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What Streaming Music Services Pay (Updated for 2019)

Find out how much you’ll earn from the most popular streaming music services – Pandora, Napster, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and more.

Early last year, Digital Music News published its streaming royalty payouts list.

Thanks to information from third-party websites, we ranked streaming music services according to their per-stream rate.

We found Pandora had the highest per-play royalty rate.  At $0.01682 per play, an independent artist would need around 87,515 plays to earn the US monthly minimum wage of $1,472.

YouTube had the worst per-stream payouts.  At $0.00074 per stream, artists and content creators would make $1,472 after 1,989,189 million plays.

Now, using information gathered from real artists and third-party websites, we’ve updated our streaming music services payouts list for 2019.

Take a look.

Napster remains king of streaming music payouts, but at a severe cost.

Earlier this year, with Microsoft’s Groove Music shutting down, Napster remained the king of streaming music service payouts.

The service had paid $0.01682 per play.  According to two sources – Information Is Beautiful and David Crosby – that number has steadily risen.  On average, Napster now pays out $0.019 per stream.  To meet the monthly minimum wage amount in the US, an artist would need 77,474 total plays.

With 5 million paying subscribers, the service loses around $7.00 per user.  Unlike its rivals, however, Napster remains a profitable streaming music service.

Jay-Z’s beleaguered TIDAL remains a top player, at least in terms of payouts.

This year, Jay-Z’s streaming music platform, TIDAL, has remained embroiled in multiple controversies.  These include accusations of hacking users’ accounts to inflate Beyoncé and Kanye West’s total streams.

Nevertheless, the service had remained friendly to artists.  The service reportedly paid out $0.01284 per stream earlier this year.  That number has slightly fallen to $0.0125.  Artists on TIDAL now need 117,760 total plays to earn $1,472.

Jay-Z’s streaming music service reportedly loses $6.67 per user with an annual loss of $28 million.

Apple Music takes third place.

Historically, Apple Music has paid artists much better than its streaming music rival, Spotify.

In 2017, the service paid $0.0064 per stream.  That number rose earlier this year to $0.00783.

Today, that number has settled at $0.00735.  Artists on Apple Music would need around 200,272 plays to earn the US monthly minimum wage amount.

With Apple closely guarding its user metrics, it remains unclear how much Apple Music loses each year on the service as well as per user.

Don’t count out GPM just yet.

Despite the introduction – and subsequent failure – of YouTube Music, Google Play Music (GPM) remains a strong competitor in the streaming music market.  The search giant likely won’t shutter the service anytime soon.

In 2017, the service paid $0.0059 per play to artists.  Earlier this year, and right behind Deezer, GPM paid $0.00611.  That number now stands at $0.00676 per stream.  Artists will need around 217,752 total streams to earn $1,472.

Like Apple, Google closely guards GPM’s user metrics.  According to Information is Beautiful (IiB), Google Play Music has 10 million total users, with 5 million paying for the service.  It remains unclear how much GPM loses each year as well as per user.

Deezer falls to fifth place.

Launching several years ago in the US, French-based streaming music service Deezer still doesn’t have an established presence in the country.

Last year, at $0.0056, the service topped GPM in terms of payouts.  Earlier this year, Deezer paid $0.00624.  That number has slowly risen to $0.0064, placing it right behind GPM.  Artists will need 230,000 total plays to earn the US monthly minimum wage amount.

According to IiB, the service has an annual loss of $27 million, losing $1.69 per user.  Deezer reportedly has 16 million users, with around 9.12 million – or 57% – paying for the service.

Spotify finally beats Amazon.

Previously ranked as the service with one of the worst payouts, Spotify has steadily increased its per-stream rate.

Last year, the service paid out $0.0038 per play.  Earlier this year, Spotify increased its per-stream payouts to $0.00397.  The streaming music giant now reportedly pays $0.00437 per play.  According to award-winning cellist and composer Zoe Keating, she received $0.00543 per play on average this year.  At $0.00473 per play, artists will need around 336,842 total plays to earn $1,472.

With over 191 million monthly active users, and 87 million subscribers, the service has lost over $584 million so far this year.  Per user, the service loses $2.68.

Amazon falls behind.

As with Napster, Apple, and Google, Amazon closely guards its user metrics.

Earlier this year, The Trichordist found Amazon paid indie artists $0.0074 per play.  That number has now plummeted to $0.00402, placing it behind Spotify.  Artists will now need around 366,169 total streams to earn the monthly minimum wage amount in the US.

Pandora continues to struggle.

Last September, Liberty Media’s SiriusXM finally purchased struggling digital radio service, Pandora Media.

The service has historically struggled to remain afloat.  It’s also paid indie artists dismal amounts in terms of royalties.

Last year, despite having the second-highest amount of total users in the US, Pandora paid artists $0.0011 per play.  Earlier this year, the digital radio service slightly increased that rate to $0.00134.  The company has now settled at paying artists $0.00133 on Pandora Premium.  Artists will now need 1,106,767 total plays on Pandora Premium just to earn $1,472.

The service reportedly loses $250 million each year, with loss per user calculated at $3.09.  Pandora has over 81 million users, with around 6.8 million subscribers.

YouTube pulls a U-Turn.

Historically, YouTube hasn’t ever been an artist-friendly platform, thanks to its horrendous payouts.

In 2017, the popular video platform paid $0.0006 per play.  Earlier this year, the company increased its rate to $0.00074.

Executives have now pulled a U-Turn, choosing to pay artists $0.00069.  To earn the monthly minimum wage amount in the US, artists will need around 2,133,333 total plays on YouTube.

The video platform reportedly loses $174 million each year, with loss per user calculated at $0.17.

So, what’s our advice?

Once again, please don’t ever make a career out of your earnings on the popular video platform.  Trust us.  You’ll regret it.

You can check out a quick infographic detailing each service’s payouts below.