Music Industry

How Much Do Streaming Services Pay Artists? 

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You probably stream music every day, you may even be doing so now. But have you ever wondered just how much cash the musicians are getting for this and how much you could earn from releasing your own album? 

If you want to release music, you need to know how much streaming services pay artists. This’ll help you calculate your budget for producing the tracks. It’ll also enable you to decide which pay per play platform you want to use, as they’re not all the same.  

In this article, we’ll list the music streaming royalty rates for all the big names, and uncover how many plays you need to make big money from pay per play.  

How much do streaming services pay singers?

How streaming works  

If you’ve recorded a track, album, or EP that you want to get out there, your first port of call should be a streaming service. This makes any album releases easy and gives you access to bigger audiences than ever before. It also ensures your work gets the opportunity to be heard by listeners all over the world. 

A key consideration when choosing a streaming service will be how much they pay. It’s true that streaming has been damaging for some artists in the past, but things are improving greatly and the pros far outweigh the cons. You just need to be savvy in how – and where – you do it.  

How streaming works  

Streaming has overtaken the buying of hard copy records, CDs and tapes along with the evolution of the internet (although we still do these things too). You can play or download songs and albums in seconds, using a number of devices, including smartphones, laptops, Alexa, tablets, smart TVs and more.

It’s convenient, cheap and even free in some cases. You can access music via a monthly subscription service, or without paying a penny on some (provided you’re happy to tolerate a few interruptions from ads along the way). 

As a singer or band, all you need to do is upload tracks. No costly album cover and sleeve printing or having to invest thousands upfront on hard copy CDs – if you don’t want to, or are unable to fund it.  


Getting 1 million plays – how to land 1 million streams

A million plays are the golden number to achieve and something you can use to really ramp up your social media campaign – a million sounds so good! But to get there you’ll need a good marketing package in place. You can have the most amazing tracks in the world, yet if no one knows about them, you won’t get played. This is a business like any other, so you have to think of it in this way. 

How much money are 1 million streams worth?   

It varies. So to answer that question – or at least to work out an average in an ever-changing climate – we need to take a look at individual platforms loyalty rates and schemes. But one thing’s for sure, a million streams will not make you a millionaire, or anywhere close. You’ll need to add a couple of zeros for that.  

Music streaming royalty rates – do artists make money from streaming? 

The answer to this is yes – and no. Some artists make huge amounts of money, some make an average amount, some make a little and some, by the time they’ve taken into account their expenses, make a loss. The good news is, if you’re creating great work and you do enough to publicise it, you stand to do very well from streaming. 

Let’s dive into the individual services and what you can expect from each.  

How much does Spotify pay per stream? 

How much does Spotify pay artists? 

The short answer is, it doesn’t. This platform has a profit share policy. So the better they do, the better each of your streams pay.  

Spotify makes money from subscription fees and advertising and operates a system called stream share. With this, you get a percentage of the overall takings, based on the number of plays you have. This is paid either directly, to the label, or to an aggregator.

If Spotify is making loads of money, then this could be a great option. It’s a bit like investing in shares, it’s less predictable than other forms.  

How much does Spotify pay artists? 

Spotify uses a simple formula to calculate this pay.  

Net income ÷ overall number of streams = pay per stream.  

Because of this, it’s not possible to say exactly what rate they pay, as it will change according to their fluctuating costs and what income they receive, But we can estimate based on previous years’ averages. And in 2019 this equated to 0.0035 in pounds sterling.   


How much does TIDAL pay per stream?  

This platform is J-Z’s pet project and does ok in the rankings. However, it’s been the source of a great deal of controversy, with claims that it has overinflated the streams from both his and Beyonce’s tracks.

It’s been paying out a very decent average of 0.0099 in GBP. Be warned though, the site is making a considerable loss, so how much longer it’ll sustain this, is a definite concern. 

How much does Google Play pay per stream? 

How much does TIDAL pay per stream?  

If you’re an Android user you’ll likely be familiar with Google Play. It’s not only music that’s available, but apps and books too. With Google being such a giant of the tech industry, you’re in safe hands here. And when it comes to playing pay, they offer a decent average of 0.0053. As with so many of these services, we don’t know their exact figures, but they do rack up around 5 million paying subscribers.  

How much does Napster pay per stream? 

This is top of the charts at around 0.015 in GBP currently – its payouts have steadily risen so you can well expect an increase on that. Its success may lie in that it doesn’t have a free option. If you want to use it you’ll have no annoying ads, but you will have to pay.

Not only does this bring in the cash, but it encourages music fans who want a seamless experience and maybe more discerning.  Not great if you want free tracks, but perfect if you’re selling your wares.  

How much does Apple music pay per stream? 

Apple is certainly one to watch. The Copyright Royalty Board ruled last year that composers and their publishers would be paid via the higher outcome of two formulas: either 15.1% of a streaming service’s total revenues; or 26.2% of a streaming service’s “total content costs” Unlike Spotify, Amazon, Google and others, Apple are not contesting this decision. Which indicates that they’re happy to increase their pay per play. At the moment their average is 0.0058 GBP per stream. 


How much does YouTube pay per play? 

If you think YouTube can do no wrong, you’d be, well, wrong. The superpower video platform tried to launch it’s own YouTube Music, which bombed. Yet this is still one of the top websites for streaming music because it includes visuals. If you have a very strong image, aesthetic or performance style that your music relies on to a degree (think St Vincent or Lady Gaga), then this is particularly important for you.  

You won’t be signing up to YouTube for the pay though. Each one gets around 0.00059, putting it low down in our chart or streaming pay. This is a totally different beast to the other platforms we’re talking about here though. While the payouts are not good in this sense, YouTube offers some of the biggest bucks in the industry – via sponsorships, ads and endorsements. So play it at its own game and not for the streaming payouts.   

How much does Amazon pay per play? 

Not much. This massive shopping forum falls behind when it comes to artist payouts, with pay in the region of 0.0032 being the current UK average. The brand has struggled with its TV offer too but managed to make a comeback. So perhaps its music revenue will pick up in future – but whether it’s enough to stay competitive for artists, remains to be seen.  

How much does Deezer pay per play?

Deezer is another mid-range payer with 0.0051 in GBP. But changes are afoot, as they test out ‘user-centric payouts’. As with other platforms, Deezer provides a share of revenues according to your plays, but this varies wildly between providers, not only because of their income but because of what they claim to be ‘revenue’.  

How much does Pandora/SiriusXM pay per play? 

The smaller name Pandora was in streaming from the beginning but has struggled. Since being bought by SiriusXM it’s back afloat and paying around 0.0010 GBP for each play on the Pandora Premium service.  

Which streaming platform pays artists the most? 

If you’ve kept track, you’ll notice that currently, Napster has the best payouts for artists per play. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get paid the most. If you earn less per play on Spotify for example but receive double the amount of plays, then financially it’s still a far better bet.  


Which streaming service pays the most? 

Let’s take a side by side look at how the standard streaming services stack up when compared. You’ll soon see just how much a few pence can add up to huge amounts. Do be aware that as pay per play rates are subject to constant fluctuation, based on a number of changing factors and are generally not published by the services, these are estimations based on averages reported from artists who use them. 

  100 plays  1000 plays  10000 plays  100000 plays  1000000 plays 
Napster   1.50 GBP 

1.90 USD 

15 GBP 

19 USD 

150 GBP 

190 USD 

1500 GBP 

1900 USD 

15000 GBP 

19000 USD 

TIDAL  0.99 GBP 

1.30 USD 

9.90 GBP 

13 USD 

99 GBP 

130 USD 

990 GBP 

1300 USD 

9900 GBP 

13000 USD 

Apple Music   0.58 GBP 

0.74 USD 

5.80 GBP 

7.40 USD 

58 GBP 

74 USD 

580 GBP 

740 USD 

5800 GBP 

7400 USD 

Google Play   0.53 GBP 

0.68 USD 

5.30 GBP 

6.80 USD 

53 GBP 

68 USD 

530 GBP 

680 USD 

5300 GBP 

6800 USD 

Deezer   0.51 GBP 

0.65 USD 

5.10 GBP 

6.50 USD 

51 GBP 

65 USD 

510 GBP 

650 USD 

5100 GBP 

6500 USD 

Amazon   0.32 GBP 

0.41 USD 

3.20 GBP 

4.10 USD 

32 GBP 

41 USD 

320 GBP 

410 USD 

3200 GBP 

4100 USD 

Pandora   0.10 GBP 

0.13 USD 

1.00 GBP 

1.30 USD 

10 GBP 

13 USD 

100 GBP 

130 USD 

1000 GBP 

1300 USD 

How much are 1 billion streams worth? 

Three years ago, Drake made history by reaching a billion streams on Spotify with One Dance. Now many artists have multiple tracks to have reached this number, including Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, DJ Snake and The Chainsmokers. Getting over a billion streams will certainly make you a millionaire – at least twice over. You can check exactly how much you’ll get on each of the major platforms, by using a calculator.  

Bear in mind that others will be probably be taking a share of that also. Even if you sing and play, you’ll have producers, managers and backup musicians to pay royalties to. Learning about copyright and how the industry works in a business sense, is important for professional artists. There are also lawyers who specialise in the media and can advise on a record label, management contracts and suchlike.  


Streaming payout calculator 

To calculate your earnings quickly and easily, you can use a handy online tool. Almost all of the calculators found online are in US dollars. However, here’s one that’ll work out your pay per play for any platform and in a number of currencies.   

Now you know how much the big streaming services pay artists, you’ll be much better equipped to decide which route to take. And it’s not only about the money. Find a platform that suits your vibe, is best for a singer, or band of your level and one that’ll help you target your particular audience. Get as many streams as you can. Check out where artists similar to you upload their music and find out how many streams they get on each platform. A little research goes a long way. Then once your music is uploaded – share share share those tracks everywhere!

Related Questions 

  • What is the best streaming service?  

It really depends on your personal preference, they each have their own differences. Whether you use Android or Apple products will also affect your choice. You don’t have to use the same service for your uploading and downloading either. Try out a few and see which works best for your purposes. 

  • How do artists get paid for streams? 

Payment for streams goes straight to the person who holds the rights to the tracks. If this is the artist, it will go directly to them. Or it may go through a third party who’ll then distribute royalties accordingly. 

  • How do producers get paid from streaming?  

Producers get paid in the same way as the artists, provided they are one of the ‘holders’ of the music rights. To prevent any disagreements further down the line, percentages should be agreed, ideally in a written contract before releasing albums and EPs.   

Do you receive income from streaming? Have you hit a million streams, or another big figure yet? Tell us about your experiences with pay to play in the comments below.