What Streaming Music Services Pay (Updated for 2020)

Reported per-stream payouts from top music streaming services (updated for 2020; click to enlarge)

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

Based on information directly received from artists and indie labels, as well as various published sources, we can rank streaming music services according to their per-stream rate. Take a look.

Napster remains king of streaming music payouts, but total usage is lower.

With Microsoft’s Groove Music shutting down, Napster became 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 of $1,472, 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. But the service reportedly paid out $0.01284 per stream earlier this year. That number has fallen slightly to $0.0125, according to more recent data. 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.

Back 2017, the service paid $0.0064 per stream. By last year, that number had risen 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 competitor in the streaming music market. But fair warning: GPM is officially shutting down at the end of 2020, so focusing your marketing efforts on the platform is probably unwise.

Last 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 many of those users will transition over to YouTube Music in 2021.

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.

Back in 2018, at $0.0056, the service topped GPM in terms of payouts. By 2019, 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.

Deezer recently reported 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.

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 just above Spotify. Artists will now need around 366,169 total streams to earn the monthly minimum wage amount in the US.

How much does Spotify pay per stream?

Spotify’s per-stream rate ranks as one of the worst, and it appears to be falling. According to the latest data, Spotify pays most artists between $.003 and $.005 (one-third of a penny to one-half of a penny) for each stream. 

Back in December 2019, you may have read our report on cellist Zoe Keating’s receiving a $753 check from Spotify, as compensation for 206,011 streams. Rounding up, the sum represents a per-stream royalty rate of $0.0037 – down from Keating’s 2018 Spotify royalty rate of about $0.0054. Separately, mechanical royalty firm Audiam also suggested that Spotify royalties have decreased despite rising subscriber counts and revenue.

Pandora continues to struggle.

Back in 2018, despite having the second-highest amount of total users in the US, Pandora paid artists $0.0011 per play. By 2019, 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.

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. By 2019, the company had increased its rate to $0.00074.

But YouTube 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.

 

 

49 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Anonymous

    Infographic doesn’t look right. Napster has an extra 0? Should be 0.019

  2. Avatar
    Anno

    Meaningless data. The per play rate is always a function of how much money each brand made for the period, divided by total plays. So the real levers are revenue / usage. If usage is low, per play rate can be high. So the per play rate must always be viewed with context, which you emitted.

  3. Avatar
    Jefferson

    Include AM/FM/satellite radio in the chart, expressing their payments by mode of delivery (terrestrial transmitter, satellite, internet/webcast, etc).

  4. Avatar
    Evan W.

    why do you write in article, ” It remains unclear how much (company name) loses each year as well as per user.

  5. Avatar
    J

    This is interesting data. When I asked Ditto, the aggregator I use, they said Spotify pay out approximately £0.0008 per play. This is approximately 4-5 times less than the numbers you’re suggesting in this article.
    Why is it almost impossible for artists to find accurate data on this?

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      They might be allowing for fluctuations PLUS it is also likely that your aggregator is several steps removed from the direct payout (ie with each ‘step’ taking a slice of pie before it gets to them and you)

      • Avatar
        Ronak Raval

        Ditto advertises as not taking a cut from payouts, same with DistroKid. Are they lying? Or is the data wrong or differs on per-case basis?

    • Avatar
      Mike Twiss

      Because the artists are being lied to and cheated out of millions of dollars in revenue and there is no real oversight to prevent this.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      I left Ditto is unacceptable to ignore the request to remove an album from stores.

  6. Avatar
    Thomas B.

    This data seems completely useless, because it is doesn’t tell, through which channels theses payout go through. Are those royalties from collection societies or are those the combined sum of those and those from record labels which they pay to the artists per stream. Also how much money are paid to the record labels per stream. The German music industry just announced that music streaming was able to compensate for decreasing CD sales in Germany. W/o these information these are just pretty numbers with no real world implications.

    It also should be pointed out, that the ad supported service Spotify (and also YouTube) offers was important to finally tackle the issue with illegal streaming and downloads. So, it might not be much but it is a lot more than 0. This shouldn’t be forgotten by the people who complain about low payout rates. It would also be interesting how the payouts for ad supported and paid streams differ.

  7. Avatar
    Aguilorius

    I agree with your Thomas B. comment. This kind of approach is quite useless if it is unable to state the payment amounts by rights owner, I mean, how much goes to record labels (no matter major or indie or self production ) , and how much to writers. Stating this simple two concepts should be easy to infer the amounts involved on all possible situations: singersongwriter signed by a major company, artist signed by a major who sings songs from other writers, artista/writer self produced and so on. This kind of approach should provide more accurate info to creators relating the wide range of situations and choices that we have to face in nowadays music industry. Nevertheless, I sincerely thank the effort of DMN for providing updated numbers every year.

  8. Avatar
    Independent Artist

    If streaming services actually paid so much, then I would be a rich man, ha ha ha! I agree with others that these rates are completely useless, because each music store uses a lot of different rates for a single stream, depending on the service (different subscriptions) that the customer chooses… So rates can vary a lot within one streaming service.
    I distribute my recordings via TuneCore and thanks to detailed reports I know how different rates are, for example, in US Amazon, depending on the service offered (Amazon Unlimited, Amazon Cloud, Amazon Premium) these rates also differ within one service, depending on the service subscription plan. For example, Amazon Unlimited has 9 different rates (Example for January 2019 for one from my tracks: $0.0048, $0.0056, $0.0068, $0.0074, $0.0078, $0.0098, $0.0123, $0.0125, $0.0150), but (!) they change every month, because the rate paid to the artist depends on the percentage share of his streams in all of the recordings (all streams all artists) offered by Amazon (sic!).

    In February 2019 I had 112,353 streams in Amazon Unlimited and I received $1,351.77 (average $0.012 per stream), and also 103,792 streams in Amazon Cloud and I received $414.31 (average $0.0039 per stream).

    So understanding and individual calculation of how much streaming services really pays the artist – is simply impossible …

    BTW: Pandora does not pay $0.01682 per stream – in February 2019 I had 15,783 streams and I received only $ 41.15, so it’s $0.00259 per stream, not $0.01682! 🙁

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      I noticed this too! If you read further it shows pandora as one of the worst ones! I think it was a typo. They say at the top “Pandora” but I think they meant to say “Napster”. If you read right after, the numbers matching what they said was “Pandora” was really Napster. Big typo mistake

    • Avatar
      Rob

      It also depends on Pandora what format you are streamed on as to what rate you get. I consistently get over 10,000 spins per month and I have gotten as many as 18k in a month but never made $40.00 from that one source. Everybody just seems to pay what they want to pay per stream anyway…What can you do about it..NOTHING!

  9. Avatar
    Sj

    We streamed over 150 million and Ingrooves sends us between 35.00 to 55.00 a month. The distributor doesn’t respond when you try to find out anything and there’s no one to contact when they don’t pay. We’re an established lable who’s spent well over 1 million in artists, videos, promotional and distribution, ads, digital, publicist ect. You want to know what we’ve uncovered hit us up. But basically they’re using our music making billions and not paying us. Bottom line is the music streaming industry is extremely corrupt and destroying the arts. In 4 yrs no money.

  10. Avatar
    Sj

    The CEOs claim they’re not making money but Spotify was boasting about 100 million subscribers paying 15.00 monthly and buying 50 million dollar homes. So where’s that money coming from? Tidal hasn’t paid in 2 years. Apple hasn’t paid in 1 year and we have over 50 million streams with them. Everyone should take their music down until the get paid or bankrupt them. They’re laughing at everyone to the bank and people are fearful of losing numbers they’re never gonna get paid for anyway. Pure illegal corruption and no protection whatsoever for Indie labels and artists. Everyone is in their pockets. We must start downloading directly from the sites or the music industry is going to be destroyed permanently.

    • Avatar
      tanitani

      Sj — The Spotify US office is at 4 World Trade Center, 150 Greenwich Street, 62nd Floor, New York, NY 10007, one of the most expensive real estates.
      Thank you for your work and also your comment.

  11. Avatar
    Trevor Lowe

    just wondering if partial plays still pays.. I know that with Australian TV play outs if you use less than 15secs then you don’t have to pay royalties..

    so if I just play 16secs of a song does that automatically constitute a “play”?

  12. Avatar
    Anonymous

    This needs more detail to be useful. These are US rates? These are for the master only? These rates seems to be what’s paid to the label so keep in mind what the artist gets depends on the deal between them and their label. The “artist” is not the writer – the publishing side of royalties don’t seem to be mentioned here. When auditing statements and throwing out rates you personally have received, it should be stated what you are citing: artist royalties (from label/master), or public performance (PRO), or songwriting royalties (from publisher). And your share of the song must be taken into account. Assumption is the rates above are all based on 100% ownership.

    • Avatar
      Smooth Mistic Mike

      Smooth Mistic Mike “Elsie’s Music” is available on most streaming & download platforms…

  13. Avatar
    S Reignite

    Can you add Soundcloud to this considering there is Soundcloud Go?

    • Avatar
      Chilla Tokage

      lmao you’ll get a million plays in a month on sC with a Buffalo Wild Wings commercial playing for like 300,000 people and get a check for $0.40 don’t @ me .. this is mad interesting tho lmao

  14. Avatar
    JP

    How accurate is this? I have seen about several different things on how much YouTube pays so im skeptical.

    • Avatar
      L Double A on SPOTIFY

      Not really accurate. I’m in different stores or apps and the payout is lower. I just added Napster a little while ago, so I’ll know more at the end of the month

  15. Avatar
    Anon

    This, of course, doesn’t take into account how popular each of these platforms is. Just as an example, YouTube may have the lowest pay rates, but it is still used significantly more than Napster is. As a result, it may be that artists earn more money from YouTube than they do from Napster simply because of the amount of users.

  16. Avatar
    Dub

    I don’t know how much that is, what you said. But I personally only get 0.00235 USD on average per stream, when it comes to Spotify

  17. Avatar
    Greg

    Definitely don’t use the most active media platform of all time to build your career! WTF is up with that last line?

  18. Avatar
    Leon Rosen

    Im confused by the comments on Pandora which seem to be contradictory. Above you wrote they paid the highest last year. But below you write they paid among the lowest last year. As well as this year. Which is it?

  19. Avatar
    Bennie Guardell

    Costs then more to send the check than what you get paid ! …

  20. Avatar
    Frank

    The intro has a catastrophic error:

    “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.”

    Pandora is the second worst in the list! You meant Napster

  21. Avatar
    Ronak Raval (RAME)

    All this opaqueness in the industry! Well-raised issues by Jeff Price in this video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2HROI7KpPM

    Its a pity that artists still are at the mercy of these streaming services and major global labels are still trying to manipulate the industry!

    We need a better world!

  22. Avatar
    MLVX

    Oooooooh my account Spotify MLVX is crazy ! Go listen now !

    I WANT MONEY

  23. Avatar
    No name

    Not accurate. For Napster I see in my stats $0.0082/stream and $0.0091/stream, under what you mention here. And they pay with a 9-11 months delay!

  24. Avatar
    Samual

    To get Spotify music for free without subscription, you can use DRmare Spotify Music Downloader. It gives you back common audio files so that you can save the music on your device for offline playing. Get more detail at the DRmare Xmas Promotion Website.

  25. Avatar
    DerpySnake

    There’s a lot of shady comments here. Is anyone gonna delete them?