Music streaming is now the most popular way for people to listen to music. In 2020, the revenue from recorded music worldwide hit $21.6 billion. Streaming revenue accounted for $13.4 billion of this figure, and this is only set to rise in the coming years.
There are a host of different platforms on offer to the consumer, with Spotify being the most popular service. Around a third of all music streams were listened to on Spotify in 2021, and they have 406 million active users per month. This is significantly more than any of their streaming rivals.
With all this money floating around, how much money do artists make from streaming music? Well, that’s why I decided to find out “How much do Spotify & other music streaming platforms pay per stream?” And take a look at the different financial models they use.
Spotify has solidified itself as the number one streaming service in the world since its inception in 2006. Users have access to almost every song ever made. And they have acquired some of the world’s most popular podcasts too.
All of this can be accessed for free simply by registering. That goes a long way to explaining its popularity.
For those willing to pay for a premium subscription, you can listen to music without ads and download it for offline listening. Premium account holders bring in a lot more money per stream than those listening for free.
Spotify Payments Per Stream
So, how much money does Spotify pay artists per stream? Unfortunately, the company isn’t very forthcoming with information on this subject.
Officially, Spotify pays between $0.003 and $0.0054 every time a song is streamed. However, the average payout works out to $0.0033 per stream, and many factors come into play. For example, a stream played in the US will generate $0.0039 for the artist compared to just $0.0018 in Portugal.
The Spotify Model
Spotify pays artists from the advertising revenue on their free service and their subscription fees from their premium service. Simply put, the more paid-up subscribers they have, the more they pay out in royalties to the artists.
On average, this means that a song will have to be streamed 250 times to earn $1. This isn’t a fortune, and you need to have a very successful song to see any real returns. On top of this, in most cases, the artist won’t be receiving all the money either. Record labels and managers have to get their share too.
This has created a lot of bad feelings amongst recording artists who feel they are getting a poor deal. Once Spotify have taken their share, and the copyright owners have been paid off, there often isn’t much left for the artist themselves.
Let’s put these numbers in context…
A full 70% of streaming revenue goes to the rights holder of the song. These will include record labels, distributors, publishers, and occasionally the artist themselves if they are independent. In other words, most of the money from streaming on Spotify doesn’t make its way to the actual artist.
On top of that, Spotify pools the money from ads and subscriptions and divides it out to artists based on the total share of overall streams each artist achieved.
Let’s say Beyonce’s songs accounted for 3% of total streams; her label would receive 3% of total income. In other words, even if you never listened to a Beyonce track, 3% of your subscription would head in her direction.
Understandably, smaller artists don’t think this system is very fair and would prefer a model that directs subscription money to the actual artists each subscriber listens to.
How Much Do Spotify & Other Music Streaming Platforms Pay Per Stream?
Whilst Spotify has the largest share of the music streaming market; there are plenty of alternative options to choose from.
In the table below, I’ve listed how much other services pay per stream, from the highest down to the lowest.
|Streaming Platform||Payment Per Stream||Streams needed to make $1000|
As you can see from the table, Spotify doesn’t compare very favorably with most of the other major streaming services, even though it is by far the biggest player in the market.
A song with a million streams on Tidal will pay royalties of $12,840 compared with just $3,300 on Spotify. So, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that your songs need to be streamed in the multiple millions to earn a living from Spotify royalties.
To earn $50,000 a year from music on Spotify, your songs need to be streamed just over 15,000,000 times. Not too many artists reach these levels. Furthermore, of the seven million artists with music on Spotify, only 13,000 managed to earn above this number in 2020.
Let’s now take a closer look at what streaming platforms other than Spotify pay per stream, going from the lowest to the highest.
Pandora is a streaming service that is more widely known for its internet radio-style service. It allows users to create customized radio stations based on their listening habits.
Pandora can be used without paying a penny. But, if you like your music ad-free and want access to their full library of songs, you will have to pay a subscription fee.
Despite being the sixth largest streaming platform for music, Pandora pays the lowest amount per stream of all the major services. Artists only earn a paltry $0.00133 per stream on this platform. They make even Spotify’s miserable payout seem generous in comparison.
Why is that?
Their low payout probably has something to do with their dwindling number of users. Since 2016, Pandora has seen a drop from 81 million active monthly users to 55 million by mid-2021.
Like Spotify, Pandora’s payout depends on whether the song was streamed by a customer using the service for free or as a paid subscriber. Either way, on average, a song will have to be streamed almost 752,000 times to make $1,000 in royalties.
The world’s largest video streaming platform has recently been trying to get into the lucrative world of music streaming through its YouTube Music platform. Sadly, its low level per stream payouts have not made it a very artist-friendly medium.
You would have thought a company pulling in the kind of advertising revenue that they do would be able to afford more than $0.002 per stream. They undoubtedly can, but instead, choose to lowball artists who have music on their platform.
It is a shame that to make $1,000 in royalties on YouTube, your music will have to be streamed 500,000 times. On the bright side, if any other creator uses your music in a video, they payout on that too.
Not happy with having a piece of almost every pie on the planet, Amazon has made a quite successful foray into the music streaming market in recent years. The number of Amazon Music monthly users has risen from 16 million in 2016 to an impressive 55 million by 2020.
However, their subscription model is a little confusing…
They offer five differently priced tiers to their users. You can opt for an unlimited version, a high-fidelity streaming option, along with individual and family plans.
If you are an Amazon Prime member, then you automatically get a subscription to Amazon Music thrown in.
Amazon Music pays out $0.00402 per stream, a figure that is around 20% higher than Spotify. This means that to make $1,000 worth of royalties, your songs will have to be streamed just under 249,000 times.
Rising the payout scale, we have Deezer. This French company is relatively small in the world of music streaming platforms having only 16 million active monthly users, half of which are paid subscribers.
Deezer goes about things differently than many of the other major players. They have a far more generous per stream payout than Spotify, paying out $0.0064 per play. Artists can make $1,000 in royalties from just over 160,000 songs streamed.
But wait, there’s more…
They have a different payment system from Spotify. Rather than pool all the revenue and payout according to your percentage of overall streams, when you listen to an artist on Deezer, they are paid for every stream.
For example, if you only listen to one artist on Deezer, all your subscription money will go to them rather than being divided across the board.
This is a far fairer way of conducting business. Hopefully, one day this will become the model adopted across the whole industry.
Another tech giant hoping to steal the limelight from the streaming behemoth that is Spotify is Apple Music.
You can get a 3-month free trial when signing up for Apple Music. After that, you have to pay a monthly subscription of $10 for individuals and $15 for families of up to six people. Since 2015, they have grown their subscriber base from 6.5 million monthly users to an impressive 78 million in 2021.
And, artists can earn more too…
Whether it’s down to the subscriber-only model or healthier respect for artists, they pay substantially more than Spotify per stream. Payouts from Apple Music are over twice that of Spotify at $0.00783 per stream. There is also talk of raising the bar to $0.01 very soon.
As it stands, an artist would have to achieve just under 128,000 song streams to earn $1,000 in royalties in comparison to 303,000 over at Spotify.
Top of the per stream payout table is Tidal, a relative newcomer to the music streaming market. The brainchild of popular hip-hop star Jay Z, Tidal is by far the highest paying music streaming platform.
Like Deezer, you can directly support the artists by listening to their music on Tidal. If you don’t listen to an artist, they won’t receive any of your money. This is a far more transparent system for the artists involved than you find with the likes of Spotify.
Tidal was created partly out of disgust with the way the major players were operating. And to give artists a much fairer system within which to operate. As it was created by a group of artists, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. But, it’s good to see all the same.
Tidal’s Payment Structure
The payout is the highest of them all, at $0.01284 per stream. To make $1,000 in royalties, an artist needs to have their songs streamed just under 78,000 times. This is almost four times more generous than what’s on offer over at Spotify.
A nice feature is the ability to see just how much you’ve contributed to individual artists each month in your Activity Feed. If you care about supporting your favorite musicians, using platforms like Tidal is surely the right way to go.
For the same price as Spotify, their music is also streamed at a far higher bitrate, improving the overall sound quality immensely. So, if you’re wondering, “How much do Spotify & other music streaming platforms pay per stream?” make sure you give Tidal a closer look.
The Times Have Changed
As you can see, the shift from traditional album sales to music streaming as the means of delivery has not been particularly kind to your average artist. It’s massively reduced the earning potential of established and less well-known artists alike.
Some may say the superstars earned far too much anyway. But, if you’re a smaller artist with a niche audience, then you will have to find other ways to maximize your musical earning potential.
This can include revenue from live performances and merchandise. But, there are other ways to increase your streaming income too.
Regularly Release New Music
It is obvious, but true nonetheless. The more regularly you can release new music, the more likely you will be able to grow your fan base. Using multiple social media platforms to promote your latest music is also a must.
You need to spread the exposure as far and wide as possible. You’ll need to allow your music to be on as many streaming platforms as possible, too, even if the payout between them is wildly different.
Release Music in English
English is the international language of music. It’s a widely known fact that English language songs have far more international appeal than those sung in less widely spoken languages.
There’s a reason that so many European bands and musicians have been singing in English for decades. If you’re capable of singing in English, make the leap.
Get Your Songs on Curated Playlists
Platforms like Spotify have an incredible amount of user-generated playlists. The most popular ones are listened to by millions of people. If you can find a way to get your songs into a popular playlist, it could catapult your earning potential immeasurably.
Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques
In the same way that people use SEO tactics to get their website further up the Google rankings, you can use the same techniques to boost your potential target audience.
Just like Google, you can also use keywords to game the algorithm on music streaming platforms. A simple technique is to go by an artist’s name that is similar to the genre of your music.
If you’re a hip-hop artist, you could maybe include generic terms like rap in your artist name. That way, when people search for that genre, your content will automatically appear higher in the search results.
Want To Learn More About Streaming Services?
If so, take a look at our detailed articles on Spotify vs Pandora, Amazon Music HD vs Spotify Premium, Apple Music vs Spotify, Tidal vs. Spotify, YouTube Music vs Spotify, and Spotify vs Deezer for more information.
Also, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Music Streamers, the Best Wireless Computer Speakers, the Best Sonos Alternatives, the Best Desktop DAC/Amp, the Best Alexa Speakers, and the Best Smart Speakers you can buy in 2023.
And, don’t miss our comprehensive reviews of the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, and the Best Bass Earbuds currently on the market.
How Much Do Spotify & Other Music Streaming Platforms Pay Per Stream? – Final Thoughts
As we’ve seen, there is a wide discrepancy in what major streaming platforms pay per stream, with some paying up to ten times as much as others.
If you’re looking to sign up for a service for the first time or renew a subscription, spare a thought towards how generous the platform you are interested in is towards the artists and make your decision accordingly.
Until next time, happy listening.