How Much Do Artists Make Per Stream? Here’s the Latest Breakdown — From Rapper T-Pain

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Photo Credit: Haithem Ferdi

Rapper T-Pain has reignited discussion about the question that so many in the music industry have asked – “How much do artists make per stream?” – with a new social-media post.

T-Pain (full name Faheem Rasheed Najm) spurred conversation among artists, music industry professionals, and fans with a recent Instagram post and tweet, which include a chart that purportedly shows the number of streams required to earn $1 on leading platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music.

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The to-the-point diagram was originally posted on a subreddit called “r/coolguides,” which encourages users to share “picture based reference guides for anything and everything,” according to its description. This OP doesn’t elaborate upon the data behind the chart, but a Reddit comment revealed that the information had been lifted from a website called Producer Hive (DMN later confirmed that source).

Specifically, this latter source features a chart with two columns, “streaming platform” and “royalty rates,” and the asset has since made its own way onto additional social platforms. But the resource on T-Pain’s Twitter and Instagram profiles has simply been modified to reflect the number of streams needed to generate $1 on most of today’s most popular services.

Digging into the number of streams required “to make $1” per the updated chart – and answering the central question of “how much do artists make per stream?” – MelodyVR’s Napster ranks first, with 53 plays per $1 payout.

Said chart also relays that 78 Tidal streams are needed to generate $1 in royalties, compared to 128 for Apple Music, 156 for Deezer, 249 for Amazon Music, 315 for Spotify, 752 for Pandora, and 1,250 for YouTube Music. The figures largely come out to $1 apiece when calculated against the actual per-stream royalty rates published by Producer Hive and on Reddit.

Here’s another look at the breakdown, presented as payments per-stream instead of total streams per $1.

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It bears emphasizing that these rates are virtually identical to those posted by Digital Music News some time back, save for a handful of totals that have changed slightly in the interim, but are updated only on DMN.

And as we’ve noted, precise royalty rates (especially on services with both premium and ad-supported versions) depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the subscription cost (and advertising specifics) in the region from which the streams at hand derived.

Moreover, streams from premium accounts pay more than their ad-supported counterparts, and based upon an array of different factors yet, some artists have reported being paid at far lower royalty rates than those disclosed above. Needless to say, these considerations render it increasingly difficult to directly answer the question that thousands (and perhaps more) have asked: “How much do artists make per stream?”

On this front, following a months-long investigation last year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority in October announced a formal “probe into music streaming,” and platforms such as SoundCloud and Tidal have rolled out direct-to-artist payment models – to the particular benefit of independent creators who have dedicated fanbases but don’t rack up billions of streams.

23 Responses

  1. RP

    You Tube Music and You Tube are not the same thing when it comes to royalties. This idiot is pushing bogus information.

      • RP

        TPain also got Pandora wrong. There are numerous different payouts based on the ad-supported radio side of Pandora, the ad-free side of Pandora, and the on-demand Pandora Premium. The number provided is not correct.

        You would know these numbers are incorrect if you actually released music.

  2. Feck Eck

    If the world cared about music and art (it doesn’t), the rates would be STANDARDIZED ACROSS ALL PLATFORMS! The platforms would be forced to incentivize to pay acts to stay with them, not others.

    Also, T Pain is a major artist. Spotify doesn’t even pay indies below a certain pier. It’s a pool of bullshit they pay you a micro cut of. It’s NOT a per stream rate. There is NO tracking of the actual statistics in these companies either. They can make sh*t up as they please, and Youtube is known to have done this for years. Plus, they make your pages conform to their middle of the road crap platforms, including fonts and buttload vanity shots that make the players look like eunuchs. God awful world these people have created, and the demand for an alternative for indies and the unaffiliated is NOW.

    • Reality Chuck

      Emotions take over for you.

      Eck isn’t the bad guy here. He just created a platform.

      Those who decide to use it are the bad ones who are showing they don’t care about artists or what is right when it comes to commerce.

      I don’t use Spotify. I actually pay for music.

    • RP

      Standardized across platforms?

      How is that possible?

      Are you going to have the three judge panel on the US Copyright Royalty Board impose their will on streaming services?

      And what happens in Canada, Mexico, and the 180+ countries with streaming services in them?

      Maybe you don’t understand that payout rates differ vastly by country in the world, let alone the various paid and ad-supported tiers that streaming services provide.

      TPain is probably doing better than most major artists because he owns his stuff via Nappy Boy and contracts distribution, but his numbers are off. Amazon is also wrong. He’s using Amazon Prime numbers, probably from streaming in India.

      • Mt. Ben Nevis

        Shit is real… It needs to be standardized period!

  3. Tom Hendricks

    Pennies for Play, the idea connected to the music revolution would suggest no ad, musician controlled, websites that gave a penny for every click on your song. Would work with videos, Art, blog post, news stories even school lessons. Any creative content!

  4. Mike Leporati

    So.. serious question….. and any of you could have amazing answers and solutions for this: Where do WE, the artists go today, so that we are compensated better, but the streaming, listening, and viewing experience is no less diminished for fan/listener? Where do we all go, where we all win? Seriously?

    • RP

      Serious question. Serious answer.

      Whenever I poke my nose in here, all I see are whiny, lazy, dumb Socialists ranting about per-stream rates. These malcontents will never be happy. They want to go back to the “good old days” of the music industry, which never existed. They are all so brilliant, or so they’ve been brainwashed by their parents, step-parents, teachers, psychiatrists, and professors.

      If you can’t figure out how to compose and distribute and promote music that enough people want to hear so that you can get paid, well, maybe you should do something else. Give up.

      I’m supposed to give everybody the road map to success? You’re not going to like the truth. You don’t want to work for it. You don’t want to take the time to figure it out. You cannot adapt. Just go grab your one-hitter and enjoy watching the Big Game on TV. It’s all Daniel Ek’s fault. See how easy life is when you give up?

      • Idiot Detector

        By starting out your little diatribe with the term “socialists” you prove that you are the whiny little wuss. Look in a mirror before typing next time.

        • RP

          Did your mommy not change your diaper? You Socialists can’t handle being called Socialists. Because deep down you know that Socialists are losers and stupid.

          You want every artist to get paid the same rate (isn’t that Socialism?), but you can’t explain how this can be achieved on the different services and in different countries. You’re an economic illiterate and constant malcontent.

          • Idiot Detector

            One thing you do prove time and time again is how foolish you are. Congrats on that success!

      • Chosen

        Dude’s a fuckin idiot. Who makes such a narrow minded statement regarding socialism because people want to get paid there worth? Typical whiny right wing idiot.

  5. Lord Volte

    At least we’re getting paid, in Nigeria musicians have been plagued by piracy and blogs hosting music for free download for years. This is a step up.

  6. zoe keller

    You american guys would die if your audience would be in Peru, Argentina or Mexico where that money that you are earning for 1000 streams is a dream for the musicians…..
    The CPM (Cost per thousand or Mille) changes in each country and the Unite States of America have the highest one in the world

    • RP

      Zoe you’re exactly right. I know musicians in Nigeria who are living like kings thanks to people streaming their music in the US and Europe. They do not have hits in any way. They told me they were barely getting by before streaming.

  7. MarcusJ360

    Don’t forget also that these platforms give you the back-end data which is as at least as valuable as the royalties. We have never had the power before to take this fminformation and use it to target our audiences, use it to get gigs, and even figure out which songs we should play. Each platform also gives you different robust platforms to use, like Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform. There you can use your AMP to send messages to people hearing your music and drive them to concerts and social to keep them in your domain and remarket to them. Songkick and Tour Box even integrate into the calendar functions for Pandora and Spotify. And we didn’t pay for the development of these.. or rather there is an argument that this is where part of the royalties we wish to recoup go. If you haven’t, please check out Pandora Amp, Amazon music for artist, apple music for artists, Spotiy artists, YouTube artist, etc. I teach music business, and have 20+ jazz releases (10+ in the top 10 of Billboard when it meant something) and it’s so very difficult to demonstrate to artists that you’ve been duped by your teachers-not these platforms. You have more power and insightful tools that ever. These can be used to build the brands that we all have. Please do your best to think of yourself as CEO’s of your artist brands. Your publishing and royalties are but one stream of your revenue. The information that you can get from these companies about your fans is damn near priceless. We need to be fighting to get more direct access to our fans. We can take the revenue streams part from there on our own!

  8. Rudy

    Good article overall. Would anyone know if these rates are for interactive streaming, non-interactive streaming, the sound recording (or some average or combination thereof)? Thank you.

  9. JAS

    The rates are not the real issue….It is COLLECTING on those rates that seems to be the biggest problem.

    It is the common factor of most streaming complaints. Especially for the less known Artists. At that level every dollar counts.

    True transparency and accurate data should be the goal.

    The idea that a no nothing band thinks they should make a killing on a million streams is ridiculous. Radio airplay paid $.05, divide that among 100K listeners (or more) in a large city and look at what the listen/stream rate would be.

    No name Artists make/made very little from radio. Also make less for a show, lower payouts per record sold etc etc. Also got ripped off my the record company etc.

    Everybody got ripped off by record companies, and still do, but streaming puts money in the pockets of people who wouldn’t have made a single penny other wise.

    The problem is still actually getting paid what is owed, NOT getting paid what you think you are worth.