How much music streaming services pay per stream

Find out what streaming services pay out to artists and labels per listen on a song.

How much a stream is worth is important for an artist to know when they’re releasing their music on these huge new platforms. It is however crucial to note however that there is no consistent payout rate across services and in fact streams can pay out very differently between two artists on the exact same services.

The reason that there is no way to say for sure what a stream is worth on a platform is because the streaming rate is dependent on so many variables which can drastically change the value of a play. The most important elements that decide how much a stream will pay are as follows:

  • Whether the listener is a paying subscriber or on an ad-supported free tier
  • The territory they are listening from (country and location)
  • The number of streams on the service overall
  • How many streams other artists on the service are getting

The listener’s subscription (or lack thereof) makes a huge difference, as a subscribers money is worth so much more than a free listener’s – no matter how many ads they’ve seen/heard! Price points for subscriptions and therefore also streaming value change between every territory; so a stream in the US won’t be worth the same as a stream in India.

Then there is the pro-rata model which the majority of streaming services use to distribute their streaming revenues between the artists being listened to on their services. Using this model, all of the revenues that are allocated to be paid out to artists and labels go into one large pot. That pot is then divided out based on the percentage of streams that artists have gotten compared to everyone else.

This system means that not only your own streams, but the streams of every other artist on the service can have an impact on how much you’re earning.

Depending on how your music has been distributed to streaming services, your revenue may also be split by your label or distributor. Labels often take a high percentage cut from the streaming revenues. Distributors will often also take a percentage of the streaming revenue of artists they’re distributing

At RouteNote, we provide artists a choice so that they can distribute their music making the best choice for how much they’re earning on streaming services. Artists can upload unlimited music for free and keep 85% of all of their revenues still – one of the best splits on the market. If an artist is likely to make a lot of streams on their release, they can upgrade to Premium for a one-time fee at a competitive rate to keep 100% of their streaming revenues.


Estimated streaming rates for each platform

With the important disclaimer out of the way, we can still gauge a rough estimate of how much you’d expect to see from each platform as a streaming artist. It is very important to bear in mind that whilst we estimate a rough average streaming rate for platforms that this does not suggest your streaming revenue will be represented on each platform by this average.

Spotify

Spotify pays out between $0.003 and $0.0084 per stream on their platform. The average rate for a listen on Spotify is $0.004. You can see how drastically different the figure can be on a single listen and this is largely due to the disparity between the value of a listen from a Premium subscriber on their service and listens from the many free users.

As always, territory also plays a large part. Reports suggest that streams from the US may earn $0.0039 whilst a listen in Portugal can pay $0.0018.

An artist will need to reach 250 streams on a track to earn a dollar and 1000 streams will earn them somewhere between $3 and $5 most likely.

Apple Music

Apple Music pays out an average of $0.0078 a stream on their platform. It will take an artist roughly 136 streams to earn a dollar on Apple Music, and 136,000 streams to earn $1000.

YouTube

YouTube made changes to their music rates in recent years to ensure that a view on music content was worth more than a view on video content. This followed arguments that YouTube was severely devaluing music by making it available to stream on-demand on an ad-supported website where the ads are easily blocked, meaning music was earning far below the average.

For official content uploaded to YouTube, music earns on average between $0.0016 and $0.008 depending on whether the listen comes from a visitor to the website or a paying YouTube Red subscriber.

Music used in YouTube videos – but not uploaded by the rightsholder or their affiliates – also earns money through Content ID. Content ID will earn on average $0.00087 per stream.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music is the music streaming service associated with and technically alongside and connected to YouTube’s platform. It has its own app and website and earns slightly different for music streams than plays on YouTube’s main site videos will garner as its a dedicated music streaming service.

Plays on YouTube Music will gain on average $0.008.

TIDAL

TIDAL have long boasted some of the highest streaming rates in the industry with an artist focussed model and more expensive subscriptions for users. TIDAL have also recently begun exploring the UCPS model, an alternative to the pro-rata model that some deem to be a fairer way of distributing revenues between artists.

TIDAL pays on average $0.0128 per stream. TIDAL is remarkable as one of the few streaming services to pay more than 1 cent per stream. An artist needs roughly 80 streams to earn a dollar and 80,000 streams to earn $1000.

Amazon Music

Amazon Music is the official streaming service from the marketplace and tech giant. They offer a number of music offerings including the limited Prime music service which comes included in a Prime subscription. Here we’re talking about their full music service

Amazon Music pays an average of $0.004 a stream. An artist will need to gain roughly 249 streams to earn a dollar and 249,000 streams to earn $1000.

Napster

Napster are one of – if not the – highest paying music streaming service per play. Napster, like TIDAL, are a rarity in that they pay more than a cent per play. This is notably surprising if you take into consideration Napster’s storied past as a pirated music platform in the early 2000s.

Napster pays an average of $0.019 per stream. An artist will need just roughly 53 plays on Napster to make a dollar and 53,000 streams to earn $1000.

Deezer

Deezer pay an average of $0.0064 per stream. An artist will need roughly 156 plays on Deezer to make a dollar and 156,000 plays to earn $1000.

Pandora

Pandora pays an average of $0.0013 per stream. An artist will need roughly 751 plays on Pandora to make a dollar and 751,000 plays to earn $1000.


If we’ve missed out a platform that you’re curious about, do let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to keep the article updated with the figures that people are interested in.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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8 comments

    Hi Jay, If you’re distributing your music through RouteNote then earnings from Napster, as well as all other services, will be available to see 45 days after the end of the month and will be paid out once you reach the $50 threshold. For example, if your music makes $50 on Napster in May then you would receive payment on July 15th.

    Hi guys, I was hoping some of you experienced folk could help me on this one. I am three months into streaming and although I am receiving revenue from all major platforms I have not received anything from Tidal! I was wondering if there is some sort of delay going on or if its something else.
    Thanks!

    Hi Tinin,

    If you let me know the UPC of your release I can check what’s happened there and get back to you.

    Hi! My name is Pzzo Beat I’m an independent artist from Nigeria..I have been using Itaaw.com for more than a year now.. I have 5k streams on my EP but only earned 00.35 cent.. is there something I need to know?

    Hey, depending on where your listeners where and how they were listening this might be accurate as streaming rates can vary so much depending on a number of factors, as mentioned in the article. If you’re after full and detailed analytics, detailing exactly where all of your streams come from, then we have in-depth reports given to you monthly when you release your music through RouteNote.

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