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How Much Does Tidal Pay Per Stream? (Explained & Answered)

As an artist, it's important to understand streaming royalties and their rates, because you can use this information to help maximize your revenue or even plan future goals. In this article, we spent hours diving into the statistics behind Tidal and how much they pay per stream. Looking for how much Tidal pay per stream in 2022? You're in the right place.

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

Tidal pays artists $0.0128 per stream on average. This is an average of the entire royalty payout pool of Tidal. Due to this being an average, you may not earn a straight $0.0128 per stream.

As you'll find out in this article, streaming royalties are much more complicated beasts than that, and it's difficult to pinpoint an exact payout per stream rate.

The high $0.0128 per stream payout makes Tidal one of the highest paying streaming services on a pay-per-stream basis. However, with the lowest market share of 0.8% and a subscriber base of only 5 million, it can be hard to believe that Spotify only pays an average of $0.0038/stream.

tidal pay per stream rate
Some stream stats from Tidal on my music

As you can see from the above picture I'm not getting anywhere near the $0.0128/stream rate. Even if you were to take an average from the measly 17 streams I have on Tidal, it doesn't reach the $0.0128/stream.

The average would be $0.008176/steam, which is still considerably higher than Spotify or Apple Music.

However, you definitely need more data for this to accurately measure it, but this is a live example of a fairly small artist and what you can expect to get from Tidal.

I also distribute with Repost Network, but when checking stats there, none of the songs managed to get any streams on Tidal – even with some fairly high counts (for a small artist) on both Spotify and SoundCloud.

So out of a total of 27,896 streams on both platforms, I haven't even got 1 stream on Tidal – making the high payout seem entirely worthless for most small artists.

If you're a big artist, you most likely get a bigger share of the streaming pie, and it makes a lot more sense to earn using Tidal. However, you will only earn a very small chunk of money using them when compared to Spotify or Apple Music.

Are You Not Getting $0.0128/Stream? Here's Why

In reality, Tidal doesn't pay $0.0128 per stream.

This is because streaming services pay artists using a very similar model to one another:

  • They earn money from paid subscribers or advertisements,
  • Pool that money together
  • Take a cut
  • And pay the rightsholders of the music, based on the deal they agreed

For instance, in Spotify's case, they keep 1/3rd of the revenue as a cut, then pay 2/3rds to rightsholders, and those rightsholders distribute the rest of the revenue based on the deal they agreed.

The payment process makes it impossible to pay a flat rate per stream, because in the case of free users and paid users – the paid users generate more revenue, and the free will generate less. So, if you're getting a stream from a free user and they don't purchase from advertisements, essentially you are earning the platform less as a whole.

Additionally, subscription costs aren't the same everywhere in the world.

In developing countries, subscription costs will be considerably less to accomodate the population's average salary. Of course, this means that streams from developing countries will amount to less revenue, because they pay less on a whole.

This is why it's so difficult to get a straight payout per stream, because the streaming revenues vary on a number of factors, like the ones listed above.

Furthermore, average payouts per stream are just that – an average of the entire revenue and the payouts given. With Tidal this is important to note.

Remember that low 5 million subscriber rate?

Well the lower the subscription count, the less amount someone is likely to stream music, therefore pushing the average payout per stream up and somewhat skewing the figure to show higher royalties per stream.

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

Although the $0.0128/stream rate is attractive, you will not earn more on Tidal than you would on Spotify for Apple Music. This is due to a much lower market share, revenue and paying subscriber base. There just aren't enough users to generate the streams needed to earn a decent living.

That's not to say you shouldn't put your music on Tidal. The more streams you can get, the better!

But it is to say, don't think that you will somehow earn more money from Tidal than say Spotify or Apple music, just because of their higher rate per stream.

This is the same case for Apple Music. Even though they boast a high $0.01/stream rate, and have a large 24.7% market share, you still won't earn more from Apple Music than you will from Spotify.

Spotify owns 48% of the market share and has 180 million subscribers compared to Apple's 88 million. There is so much more revenue in Spotify and, the higher amount users, brings the average pay out per stream down. This makes the average payout per stream of $0.0038 confusing, leaving people thinking they will earn more using Apple Music over Spotify or some other service.

This simply isn't the case.

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

To earn a living (based on US minimum wage) on Tidal from your streaming revenue, you would have to get 1.2 million streams per year. That is a total of 29% of the entire user base of Tidal streaming your music at least once.

As you can see it would be much harder to earn on Tidal, just because of the sheer amount of users you would need to stream your songs.

When compared to Spotify's 4.1 million streams per year, you'd only need 2% of the user base to stream your songs.

Can you see why that average payout per stream metric might be a bit skewed now?

To earn your entire wage from music streaming platforms is a difficult task in itself, with only 0.2% of Spotify's artists earning over $50k. As an artist, it's much better to find different revenue streams.

Creating sample packs, playing live shows, and offering merch and classes are all things that would help to bring in large amounts of cash much quicker. Artists are too quick to focus solely on streams per month.

Which Streaming Service Pays The Most Then?

On paper, Napster pays the most per stream, with an average of $0.168/stream. However, with the lowest market share, they pay the least to artists. The platform that pays the most to artists in total is Spotify, despite the low pay per stream rate of $0.0038/stream.

Although Napster pays the highest per stream, you will likely earn the biggest chunk of your streaming revenues from Spotify or Apple Music.

These music streaming services have the largest paying subscriber base and the largest market share. Apple Music could potentially take Spotify for a run in the next few years, but until that day comes, you will earn the most from Spotify.

Here's a full list of the payouts per stream each music streaming platform offers:

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?

Spotify has the largest amount of paying subscribers with 180 million users and a 48.3% market share. Apple Music has the 2nd most subscribers with 88 million and a market share of 24.7%.

After Apple Music and Spotify, the subscriber count and market share drop dramatically, with YouTube and Amazon Music tying for 3rd place, and having 50 million subscribers.

The lowest subscriber count for a streaming service is Napster, with only 3 million users signed up and a market share of 0.8%.

Here's a full list of the paying subscribers per streaming platform:

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?

This depends on the music streaming service that you upload your music to. Because of the different royalty rates they offer, you will need more streams on Spotify over Apple Music for instance. Additionally, this also depends on the deal you have with your rightsholder or label.

As we mentioned above, it will take more streams on Spotify than Apple Music for instance, but the likelihood of you getting these streams with the bigger subscriber base and the better discovery algorithm.

Here's how many streams you'd need to get on each platform for minimum wage (US):

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

Tidal's Dodgy Royalty Payment Lawsuit

Although Tidal may have one of the highest payouts per stream, they were recently involved in a lawsuit that reported they underpaid certain labels and have been underpaying artists, when compared to what they have reported.

This lawsuit alleged that Tidal are underpaying artists by 35%, which means – even with high stream numbers, and the high payout per stream, it seems on Tidal you'll most likely earn less when compared to the more popular streaming platforms with lower payouts per stream.

Furthermore, it's reported that Tidal listed two indie bands' music without prior approval or licensing to do so, resulting in another lawsuit filed by the record labels of these bands.

When a company was set up to reward artists for using it and become a fairer platform, then is caught doing dodgy things like this, it begs the question whether Tidal's big payout per stream is really fact, or just fiction.

It's highly probable the payout per stream rate is an inflated number due to the low subscription count and therefore the lower streaming numbers artists will get.

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