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How Much Does Apple Music Pay Per Stream? We Thoroughly Researched It

If you want to make a success of yourself in the music industry and to make enough money to live from it, it’s important to understand streaming royalties and how much money you’re making on streaming platforms like Apple Music. In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about how much music Apple Music pays per stream, how they pay you, and what you can do to get the most out of your music.

How Much Does Apple Music Pay Per Stream? (TL;DR)

Here's how much Apple Music pays per stream:

Apple Music pays artists an average of $0.01 per stream. However, in practice, this is closer to $0.007 – $0.01 per stream on average.

This high payout per stream rate makes Apple Music the 4th most paid platform out of all the streaming services. This is great news for artists, because Apple Music owns 24.7% of the streaming market share, and has over 88 million paid subscribers – a number that is growing rapidly and consistently.

Didn't Get $0.01 Per Stream? Here's Why

In reality, Apple Music does not pay a straight $0.01 per stream, but rather a percentage of what it earns in monthly revenue to rightsholders.

Average payouts per stream are difficult to calculate accurately. This is because of the way streaming revenue is paid out.

Streaming Services pay artists using this process:

  • Calculates the money it earns through subscriptions of advertising revenue.
  • Takes its cut from this value (for Spotfy & Apple Music this is a 52% headline rate)
  • Then pays the rightsholders (label, distributor etc.) the percentage share of the streams they have gathered

This makes it impossible to truly calculate that each payout per stream is worth $0.01. The average might be $0.01 overall, but that doesn't account for everyone and the different deals they have agreed with the streaming service.

Additionally, with a lower subscriber count, the likelihood is that there are less users streaming tracks, meaning the average is clearly going to be higher on Apple Music, considering it has half of the user base that Spotify does.

This means that on Apple Music, you won't earn more for your music streams than you will on Spotify because of the sheer volume of plays and users that Spotify can get for you.

How Does A Mere Deal Change The Payout Per Stream I Get?

So we know that Apple Music pays the same 52% headline rate to all labels and distributors. But here's where it gets tricky – that 52% is the final pool of the revenue after Apple Music takes its cut. This 52% is then distributed among rightsholders based on the percent of the total streams they have achieved for the month.

Why does this change the payout per stream you're getting?

Because, for example, if Sony Music is taking 60% of the total streams, there is a lower percentage to be taken by the rest of the labels and distributors, making your earnings fluctuate more.

However, Apple Music claims that they pay the same rate, and don't offer deals to different labels and rightsholders based on the number of streams they bring in for the service.

This theoretically means you can sign with any label or distributor and get the same rate per stream as someone else who is signed with a different label – something Spotify and other services are guilty of doing – they work out different deals for different labels and distributors.

Why Average Payouts Per Stream are Misleading

Average payouts per stream are misleading because a streaming service with a lower engagement rate looks like rewards artists more for their work. But this is not the case. Lower streams print a higher average payout and vice versa.

Because there is a smaller pool of people streaming, this means the pay-per-stream rate can look higher, because fewer people are streaming as many times, lowering the average.

This realistically means that Spotify pays more than Apple Music pays artists. And, even though Napster or Tidal look like they pay more per stream – it's false.

The higher the revenue and user base, the more you'll likely earn as an artist on that platform.

Want To Make The Most Out of Your Streaming Revenue? – Which Streaming Service Pays The Most Per Stream?

Napster pays the most per stream at a rate of $0.0168 per stream. However, Napster has a very small user base (5 million) and a 0.98% market share. This makes the average payout per stream higher because there are fewer streams happening on the platform.

apple music pay per stream

This means you'll earn less from Napster because you'll never accumulate the streams necessary to earn much.

You will most likely earn the largest chunk of your streaming revenue from the platform you get the most streams on. For most people, this will be Spotify due to the sheer number of people and the opportunities for playlisting.

The streaming service that will earn you the 2nd biggest chunk is likely to be Apple Music as it has the 2nd most active users.

Here is a quick list of the rates streaming platforms pay artists:

Streaming ServicePayout Per Stream ($)
Napster0.01682
Tidal0.01284
Amazon Unlimited0.01175
Apple Music0.01
Deezer0.0064
Google Play0.00543
Amazon Digital Services0.00402
Spotify0.0037
Pandora 0.00133
YouTube0.00069
Others (Yandex, Peloton, iHeartRadio etc)0.012663

Which Service Has The Most Paid Subscribers, Revenue & Market Share Then?

The streaming platform with the biggest market share is Spotify with 48.3% and a total of 180 million users signed up to the platform. The runner-up is Apple Music with a 24.7% market share and a total of 88 million paying subscribers.

subscribers per streaming platform

Even though Apple Music has a lower amount of paying subscribers, they have managed to capture the US market share, exceeding Spotify's paid subscription number in the states.

The lowest subscriber streaming service is Tidal, with 0.98% of the market share and a low count of 5 million paying subscribers. The small amount of subscribers helps to push the average payout per stream higher.

If you notice, the highest paying streaming platforms, have the smallest subscriber base.

Here's a list of each music streaming platform, covering the subscribers and market share:

Streaming ServiceTotal Paid SubscriptionsMarket Share (%)
Spotify180 million48.3
Apple Music98 million24.97
Amazon Unlimited Music55 million4.04
YouTube Music50 million6.99
Deezer16 million2.6
Pandora6.5 million3.03
Napster5 million0.8
Tidal3 million0.98

Can Artists Earn A Living From Apple Music?

Yes. Artists can earn a living from Apple Music. Based on the US minimum wage and the average payout per stream, it would take 1.5 million streams per year.

However, these streaming royalties may vary from artist to artist, and will vary on different music streaming services.

Most artists will earn the majority of their money through live shows, merch, and other products in the music business, such as sample packs.

For example, only 2% of Spotify artists earned over $1000 in 2020, with 0.2% of those artists earning over $50k from their streaming royalties.

Apple Music, unfortunately, doesn't have any data to show how many artists are earning a living from the streaming platform, but based on the numbers from Spotify, you can expect the number of artists to be much lower, considering the lower subscriber count.

It's reported that, for smaller artists, the average payout for a single live gig is 3x more than what they will earn from a year on Spotify, Apple Music or any other music streaming platform.

How Many Streams Does It Take To Earn Minimum Wage On Each Platform?

Technically Napster is the service that requires the lowest number of streams to get minimum wage. However, the likelihood of you getting this number of streams is very slim, considering the small user base. On Napster, you would have to get 896.6K streams per year, from a 3 million paying user base.

29.3% of the platform would have to stream your song at least once to earn minimum wage on Napster. For a single artist to get 29.3%, you would have to be near world-famous.

It's much more likely for you to earn a minimum wage on Apple Music or Spotify due to the higher rate of paying subscribers and user base.

Here is a quick list of the number of streams you need to get for US minimum wage:

Streaming ServiceAmount of Streams Per Year
Napster896.6K
Tidal1.2M
Amazon Music Unlimited1.3M
Apple Music1.5M
Deezer2.4M
Spotify4.1M
Pandora11.6M
YouTube21.9M

Who Are The Highest Earning Artists on Apple Music?

The highest earning artist on Apple Music is Ed Sheeran, with a total of 53,011,532 plays, accumulating a rough estimate of $530,115.32 for those streams. Next is Drake, with 37,050,581 plays and $370,506. Finally, Post Malone with 33,269,436 and $332,694.

As you can see, compared to the highest-paid artists on Spotify, these values are much smaller.

Apple Music Streaming Royalty Calculator

To check how much you could earn on Apple Music, we've created a streaming royalty calculator for all music streaming platforms. Select Apple Music from the royalty calculator below and enter your streams.

Please take note that this is based on Apple Music's average payout per stream. It will give you a rough idea of what you could earn from those streams. It does not take into account different label deals, different rightsholder deals etc.

FAQ

How Much Does Apple Music Pay Per 1000 Streams?

Based on the average payout per stream of $0.01, for 1000 streams on Apple Music you would earn $10.

This doesn't mean you will earn $10 for every 1000 streams you get, as there are many intricacies to the calculation of each stream. This is an average.

How Much Does Apple Music Pay For 1 Million Streams?

For 1 million streams on Apple Music, an artist would earn $10,000. This is based on the average payout being $0.01.

Of course, in practice, this is unlikely to reach the exact number of $10,000 due to the way royalties are calculated.

How Many Streams Does It Take To Get $1 On Apple Music?

To get $1 from streams on Apple Music, you need to get 100 streams on your music. This was calculated using the average $0.01/stream rate on Apple Music.

How Many Streams Does It Take To Earn Minimum Wage on Apple Music?

To earn a minimum wage on Apple Music, you need to get 1.5 million streams per year. This is based on the average payout per stream being $0.01/stream, using the US minimum wage to calculate the number of streams needed.

Is Apple Music Better Than Spotify for Earning Money?

Spotify is a better service to release your music when compared to Apple Music. Although Apple Music appears to pay more, there are more users on Spotify, and more opportunities to make use of playlisting.

Spotify additionally has better suggestion algorithms that recommend your music to more people.

Spotify has more than double the paid subscription count and many more free accounts that earn the platform money through advertising revenue. Compare the figures of the highest paying artists on Apple Music vs the highest pay on Spotify and you will see the value of having a bigger user base over payout per stream.

Additionally, the higher payout per stream rate of Apple Music is due to a lower subscriber rate. This increases the average payout per stream because there are simply fewer streams to bring the average down.

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