How Many Streams Does It Take to Earn $1? Take a Look…

Streaming music payouts from an indie rapper.

What does streaming music pay in 2016?  That’s becoming an increasingly tricky question.  But here’s the latest breakdown from an artist royalty report.

It takes 776 streams on YouTube to earn a dollar, and just 32 on Microsoft Groove.  On SoundCloud, you’ll need 766 streams to earn $1, while it only takes 96 from the SoundCloud GO premium service.  In between, there are streaming music services Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Rhapsody, TIDAL, Google Play, and VEVO, all paying wildly different sums for the same exact song.

Why the polar extremes?  We’ve been receiving — and posting — lots of streaming payout information on Digital Music News, only to learn that payouts aren’t normalizing over time.  Instead, they’re become more divergent over time.  Just recently, an independent hip-hop and r&b label shared an entire statement with Digital Music News, one showing multi-dollar payouts from Microsoft Groove (via Xbox), and almost worthless payouts from YouTube (take a look).

Now, the latest streaming music data dump come from an independent rapper, who will remain unnamed but leaked his/her payout spreadsheets to industry executive Wendy Day.

Here’s the breakdown:

Service Per Stream Royalty # of Streams = $1
Microsoft Groove 0.031113139 32
Soundcloud GO 0.01037594 96
Slacker 0.006153846 163
Tidal 0.0054 185
Google Play 0.005278658 189
Apple Music 0.005103035 196
Deezer 0.00510566 196
Rhapsody 0.004579501 218
Spotify 0.003589881 279
Vevo 0.002071429 483
Aspiro 0.001676301 597
Soundcloud 0.001305585 766
YouTube 0.001288172 776

A few quick notes on this data.  TIDAL is part of Aspiro, acquired by Jay Z last year, but we’ve noticed in statements that ‘Aspiro’ usually refers to the older service, and ‘Tidal’ the newer service, with payment lags to blame.  Tidal has received lots of complaints over delayed payments, but the actual payouts seem to be on the upper range of competitors when they do arrive.

Also, this doesn’t have anything from YouTube Red, which is a recently launched premium service.  The scattered data we’ve gotten on YouTube Red shows higher per-stream payouts, but total subscriber levels are rumored to be extremely low.  The same applies to SoundCloud Go, which is SoundCloud’s premium attempt, though interestingly, GO is now starting to appear on royalty reports.

Keep in mind that Apple Music is entirely subscription, though payouts on the three-month free trial are markedly lower.  Spotify also has a free and paid tier, with the paid tier paying multiples over the free tier.  Unfortunately, those tiers weren’t broken out in this royalty statement.



Got a statement to share?  Please help the artist community and send it over to [email protected]  Complete confidentiality assured.

9 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “The scattered data we’ve gotten on YouTube Red shows higher per-stream payouts, but total subscriber levels are rumored to be extremely low”

    It’s another YouTube Music Key, it won’t exist a year from now.

  2. Chuck

    I was under the impression that Aspiro is the parent company of Tidal (formally WiMP). Can you clarify what the segmented out ‘Aspiro’ actually represents in comparison to Tidal?

    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      I’m not 100% sure, but I think I remember from earlier statements I’ve seen that pre-acquisition Tidal was paying a much worse rate, and, wasn’t yet called Tidal (marked as Aspiro). If anyone else has more info on this, please add it here!

  3. Me

    Why don’t you ever indicate which Spotify rate you’re using? Are you using a Subscription rate, ad-supported rate, or an average of both?

  4. Wendy Day

    These above figures are directly from the payment statement for a newer independent rapper (he IS the record label). The breakdowns are not further (Spotify GO/YouTube Red/Tidal, etc) because there is no further breakdown on the statement. There is no seperate breakdown for streams for publishing. It’s up to each individual label/recipient to pay whomever is owed splits from the sales/streaming payments.

    • dth

      its not up to the label/recipient to pay publishers and songwriters. hfa, music reports, and ascap/bmi/sesac does this. streaming royalties are divided into label, mechanical, and performance.

  5. dth

    these reports are way off! especially for soundcloud. we have 3500 assets on soundcloud and it barely pays 50 cents per 1000 streams. we’ve been monetized on soundcloud for about 18 months and that has been consistent. its by far the worst and nothing pays anywhere close to as low as soundcloud. youtube music generally has a $1 per 1000 to $2 per 1000 streams depending on the month and time of year. december being the best and january being the worst.


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