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Napster Pay Per Stream (Why Napster Doesn’t Pay What You Think It Does)

Napster was originally a P2P file-sharing service, which turned into one of the main reasons that Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, and other streaming services were invented, due to the large decrease in music sales. It's now one of the highest-paying platforms on a per-stream basis. In this article we're going to explain why Napster's pay per stream isn't a good thing, and how you can make the most money from your music.

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

napster pay per stream

Napster's average payout per stream is $0.168 per stream. This makes Napster the highest-paying streaming service when compared to giants like Spotify, Apple Music and more. However, the likelihood of you receiving $0.168 per stream is slim.

The high payout per stream rate gives Napster 1st place on the pay per stream ranking. But, with only a 0.8% share of the market, and a user base of 5 million people, this figure is extremely questionable.

I'm Not Getting $0.016/stream? Why?

Napster doesn't pay on a per stream basis, which is why you will never receive a straight $0.0168 per stream. Like most streaming services, it pays rightsholders of music each month depending on the revenue that it makes that month.

Napster does this in a way where it pays the artist the total percentage of the streams that they curated for the platform. This means that the biggest artists earn the biggest slice of the pie and fudge the average payout per stream numbers.

Music 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 calculate an average payout per stream for Napster, and for artists to receive a set rate per stream, because revenues in business consistently change.

If you own a business or have ever tried to go freelance, you will understand that some months are better than others, allowing for more budget one month and less budget the next month.

Additionally, this average number doesn't account for the separate deals that the music streaming service will work out with different labels, artists and rightsholders etc.

Napster will have different payment models with:

  • Universal Music vs Sony Music
  • XL Recordings vs Warner Music etc.

This is because they each bring in a different number of streams for the platform. If Warner gives more access to bigger, better, artists with more fans, of course they will be able to get a better deal than an independent like XL Recordings.

This is a common factor omitted from average payout per stream calculations, which is why they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Why Napster's Higher Streaming Rate Doesn't = More Money For You As An Artist

It's highly likely you won't receive $0.0168 per stream when using Napster because of the low user base. Due to the low user-base the average payout number is higher, because there are less streams to bring the average payout down.

This not only means that the average payout is a fabricated, high number that you won't ever get, but also means that you will never get the amount of streams needed on Napster to actually earn a living from your music.

For instance to earn a minimum wage from Napster, you'd need 896.6K streams per year. This is almost 1/5th of all paid users streaming your music each year and is extremely rare.

As you can see, these kinds of streaming numbers are reserved for musicians who are known world-wide. And, as an independent artist, it's unlikely you'll ever see these kind of streams using Napster for your music.

Remember the different percentage deals we mentioned earlier?

Well, these also play a part in how much you will receive as an artist. For instance, if you are with the label Warner music and Napster have agreed to pay 60% of all profits (after Napster takes their cut) to Warner, then there is only 40% left to share between the other rightsholders.

That means, if you're with a smaller distribution service, or label, you will likely get a worse payout per stream rate because of the deal they have given your label or distributor.

This is why it's extremely important to take this factor into consideration when choosing a music distributor, because some pay more in different territories than others.

For instance, Distrokid pays the most in the US and the UK on Spotify specifically. This is great if your audience is located there, but what if they're not? You need to look into these facts before choosing a distributor or label.

Furthermore, the deal you have with your label or distributor will also reduce the amount per stream you receive from the streaming platform, because your distributor or label will take their cut, and then pay you.

Why Average Payouts Per Stream Are Misleading

Average payouts per stream make the platform with the lowest market share and lowest paying user-base, look like they pay the most, because there are less streams to bring the average number down.

You will likely earn the most of your money from Spotify, even though they are ranked 6th in the highest-paying streaming platforms.

Apple Music will likely be your 2nd highest source of streaming income, despite them being the 3rd highest payout per stream platform.

But surely you earn more if the payout per stream is higher right?

Not true!

If you are getting less streams, less promotion and have access to a smaller user-base, you are simply not going to get the amount of streams needed to beat your Spotify earnings. Maybe this will change over time, but so will the rankings of the highest paying streaming services, because they will have a bigger number of streams to bring that average down.

And, to top it all off, this doesn't even take into account the different deals your distributor or label will have with the music streaming platform.

Want To Earn A Living From Streaming? Here's What You'd Need To Get on Napster

To earn a minimum wage on Napster (based of US minimum wage of $15,080 per year), you would need 896.6K streams per year on Napster. That is almost 1/5th of the 5 million subscriber base playing your music at least once.

As you can see this number in practicality is impossible for the small artist to reach on Napster. And, these kinds of earnings will be reserved for those who are already famous.

Even larger artists will not accumulate these kinds of numbers on Napster.

This additionally does not take into account the varying deals that Napster will have with different labels and rightsholders. So, it's probably going to be even more streams to earn a minimum wage from Napster.

Which Digital Music Streaming Service Pays The Most?

Napster pays the most on average at $0.0168 per stream. However, this number isn't what artists will receive and, with the lowest market share and lowest subscriber count, you'll likely earn the least on Napster.

Many artists will earn a large chunk of their money from Spotify, and after that, Apple Music.

Here is the complete list of the payout rates that streaming platforms pay artists:

Streaming ServicePayout Per Stream in 2022 ($)
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?

Spotify has the most paid subscribers using the streaming service. With over 180 million paying subscribers and a 48.3% market share, Spotify dominates the music streaming space. Apple Music comes in 2nd with a 98 million paying subscriber base and a 24.97% market share.

Spotifty and Apple Music dominates the music streaming space, with a combined 73.27% of the market share. After Spotify and Apple Music, Amazon Music comes in 3rd, with a measly 4.08% market share.

This reduces the streaming revenue earned, and therefore the streaming payouts received by rights holders and artists.

Here is the complete list of the number of paying subscribers and market share for all music streaming platforms:

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

How Many Streams Do I Need For Minimum Wage on Each Platform?

To earn minimum wage (based on the US minimum wage) you would need a minimum of 4.1 million streams on Spotify and 1.5 million on Apple Music and on Napster only 896.6K streams per year.

However, despite this low number, you are more likely to earn that money on Spotify or Apple Music due to the reasons listed above in this article.

Here is the amount of streams you need from each streaming platform to earn a minimum wage in the music industry:

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
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