Pay per stream of all streaming services:
Useful articles + tools for royalties:
Understanding streaming royalties and how they are paid is critical for getting the most of your revenue and setting realistic long-term goals if you are an artist. We spent hours researching the numbers behind YouTube and how much they pay per stream in this article. Do you want to know what YouTube will pay per stream in 2023? You've come to the correct place.
How Much Does YouTube Pay Per Stream? (TL;DR)
YouTube pays different rates under its three separate categories. YouTube Music, the premium service, which is separate from YouTube videos pays a high $0.008 per stream. While videos on the musician's official channel make $0.00164 per stream, the least lucrative of them all is videos monetised within the Content ID which pay $0.00087.
Streaming royalties, as you'll see in this article, within YouTube's three different payment sections, are extremely nuanced and make it difficult to estimate a precise compensation per stream.
Per-stream costs for YouTube videos could fluctuate based on ads and licencing agreements, amongst other things. We need to factor in that the money YouTube pays to musicians and rights holders are often divided among many people, such as the record company, the distributor, the publisher, and the artist themselves.
Therefore, the precise amount an artist or songwriter earns each stream can vary greatly depending on whether the upload was an independent one or done via a distributor or was under the umbrella of a record label.
Using data collected from Q2 2022, YouTube holds an 8% market share, which leaves it trailing behind Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.
Napster and Tidal, the two most popular pay-per-stream services, offer the highest rewards at $0.01682 and $0.0128 per stream, respectively. However, YouTube Music's $0.008 per stream is surprisingly good too in comparison to the others. The platform's current 8% market share and subscriber count also make a big difference in an artist's earnings potential.
How Much Does YouTube Pay Per 1000 Streams?
On average YouTube Music pays artists $6-8 for 1000 streams. This is calculated based on the average payout per stream $0.008. 1000 views of a video on the musician's official channel can make you around $1.64. 1000 views of videos monetised within the Content ID would pay $0.87. So as we can see, there is a significant difference between the three.
How Much Does YouTube Pay for a Million Streams?
On average YouTube Music pays artists $6000-8000 for a million streams. A Million views on your official artist channel would make around $1640 and you would make around $870 under Content ID. But, how much you get paid can fluctuate largely, depending on the Adsense, country of stream & free vs Premium users.
You can also use our YouTube stream calculator to work how much YouTube (and other streaming platforms) pay for a certain number of streams.
How Many Streams Does It Take to Make $1?
With the average YouTube Music per-stream payout it would take roughly 136 streams to make $1, which is much better than the 235 or 334 streams it takes to make a dollar on Amazon and Spotify respectively. However, it would take a staggering 609 and 1149 views on your Official Artist Channel and Content ID respectively.
It takes 13,605 streams to make $100 and 136,054 streams to make $1000 on YouTube Music. However, as we can see YouTube generally get its bad rep. from the second and third type of streaming.
How Does The Location & Type of YouTube Premium Account Affect Your Royalties?
While we speak of the average pay per stream for an artist, you can obviously see from the chart below that YouTube wouldn't be able to pay you the same royalties for a Premium subscriber from the US as opposed to one from Turkey.
The charts below show the individual Premium plan prices. The third section shows how much one person would pay as part of a Premium family plan.
With variations of up to 908% in the rates of the highest and lowest charging locations on the map, the royalties would be greatly impacted. So the location of your fanbase plays quite an important in how much you make in royalties, regardless of the total number of streams.
YouTube Premium 2023 prices:
|Location||Monthly Individual YouTube Premium Price ($)||YouTube Premium Monthly|
1 Person's price in a Family Plan ($)
How Can You Track & Calculate Your YouTube Streaming Royalties?
As we mentioned earlier, your royalties would change depending on the various paths that your music upload would take along the way. As we can see below in this chain diagram, your individual upload, an upload by another YouTuber, or by your label would bring in different royalties, based on whether the viewer was a Premium subscriber or a free one.
Also considering the location of your premium subscriber along with whether your music was played with a skippable vs non-skippable ad roll makes this a much more complex figure to calculate.
However, to make it digestible, this is a stripped-down flow chart to understand how your royalties reach you:
Your Music is uploaded to YouTube by:
- You/Your Record Label
- Other YouTubers [Falls under User Generated Content(UGC)]
- Automatically generated YouTube version of your song as an ‘Art Track‘ with (song, artist name, title, artwork)
Your Music uploaded as a YouTube video is seen by:
- Premium Viewers -> Subscription Revenue
- Free Viewers -> Revenue from Inserted Ads
Both types of viewers generate:
- Revenue from YouTube Music (Based on each stream)
- Revenue from Content ID (Based on each view)
You receive royalties as:
- Song Writer/Composer
- Owner of the Recording
How Does YouTube Count Advertising Dollars?
YouTube ads are distributed through Google's AdSense Auction system. Here, the content is connected to the appropriate ads. The Adsense process is nearly entirely automated and is calculated on factors such as:
- Artist's Channel
- The type of video (music only, music video, music gear unboxing, etc.)
- Level of engagement(mainly the total view count)
- Viewer's demographic analysis
Advertisers determine the maximum amount they are ready to spend on videos within a given number of views, and within those view brackets they specify the types of advertisements they want to display:
- skippable pre-roll ads
- non-skippable pre-roll ads
- basic pop-up ads
If a video you upload happens to go viral for instance, it will be promoted to more lucrative ad formats as its viewer engagement and popularity grows. This is generally the time when your Youtube revenue really sees an upward trend.
Making Money When Other YouTube Videos Use Your Music:
Sync licencing is most commonly used in film and television, where your composition will be licenced from the rights holders by the film producers, who will pay you based on distribution and viewership.
YouTube offers micro sync royalties. The term “micro-sync royalties” refers to sync royalties collected and earned in wider scales across the internet than those received for television and film.
Microsync can generate performance and mechanical royalties. In the US, these royalties will be managed by ASCAP and BMI.
Their vast potential is based on the fact that they can reach people all around the world. However, currently, YouTube pays micro-sync royalties only for video views in the United States, including music videos.
Our Findings From Stress-Testing YouTube Revenues:
In order to delve into this deeper, we stress-tested YouTube revenues by calculating the actual revenue from the streams of a YouTube musician who was kind enough to disclose their statistics. We analysed its performance in various countries where it was streamed.
While the video is the same, the location of the listener makes quite a difference as we’ve stated about the paid subscription fees, ads, etc. in the previous section.
So we found that 2.4 Million streams of the video made $12284.92, with a total watch time of 171,400 hours. With around 51% of the audience coming from the US, 13% from the UK, and less than 7% and 5% from Canada and Australia, the pay-per-stream rate was higher than usual.
The video made $0.00512 per stream, which is around 312% more than the 0.00164 per stream that a YouTube artist's official channel makes.
However, upon looking into it deeper, we found that the total revenue was inclusive of add-ons we hadn't taken into consideration. The total earnings came from:
- YouTube Premium Revenue Generation
- Channel Membership
- Super Stickers
- Super Chat
This is the advantage of having a video streaming channel like YouTube for musicians over audio alone, as their fans are able to contribute directly in ways that pure royalty can't.
Ads alone generated $28.62 from the streaming. However, YouTube takes 45% of that, leaving $15.741 for the artist.
Also, any creative content that includes copyrighted material, becomes in-eligible for monetisation. So reaction videos or song analyses, which feature another artist's song, are bound to be claimed by their respective record labels.
Which Music Streaming Service Pays the Most Per Stream?
Among streaming services, Napster has the highest compensation per stream, with an average of $0.0168. Close to them in second place is Tidal, with $0.0128/stream. As we can see from the figures we've seen, YouTube Music isn't far behind them with $0.008.
But, compared to the top two slots which have a subscription base of fewer than 5 Million users, YouTube Music has stormed ahead recently with 80 Million YouTube Music & Premium users in 2022. To understand the gravity of that number, they've grown from 50 Million to 80 Million within the last 12 months!
Here's a table of the average payout per stream of each streaming platform:
|Streaming Service||Payout Per Stream in 2022 ($)|
|Amazon Digital Services||0.00402|
|YouTube (Official Artist Channel)||0.00164|
|YouTube (Content ID)||0.00087|
|Others (Yandex, Peloton, iHeartRadio etc)||0.012663|
Note: A lot of these stats are subject to constant rate changes by various platforms. YouTube Music have increased their individual and family plan Premium subscription rates recently in September 2022.
Here's a list that maps YouTube Premium Subscribers' growth count over the years:
|Year||No. Of Premium Subscribers (in Millions)|
Here's a list of the top earning channels in 2021:
|Top Earning YouTube Channels in 2021||Revenue Generated ($Million)|
|Rhett and Link||30|
Besides these top rankers, there are over 65,000 channels on YouTube that have attained a quarter-million subscribers.
How Many Streams Does it Take To Earn Minimum Wage?
You can definitely earn minimum wage from YouTube Music alone with around 1.88 Million streams a year. While it sounds like and is a huge number, a lot of commercial artists are able to do way more than that. However, building the number of streams required is difficult, and can be volatile as some tunes go viral and some don't.
These calculations have been worked out using the $0.00164 average payout per stream value for the YouTube Official Artist Channel and the US minimum wage, which is $15,080/year. Since these are before September 2022, YouTube's current increased rates aren't reflected.
Here's a table of the number of streams you need on each platform to earn minimum wage ($15,080/Year) in the US:
|Streaming Service||Amount of Streams Per Year|
|Amazon Music Unlimited||1.3M|
Can Artists Earn A Living from Music Streaming Platforms Like YouTube Music?
YouTube Music fares much better if your music is streamed in countries which charge more than $17 per month for YouTube Premium family pans. You're likely to make more if your fan base is US oriented as current rates have shot to $22.99/month. However, you'll need a lot more on YouTube as compared to say, Napster as the compensation per stream is lower.
While streaming revenue is subject to periodic fluctuations, other revenue streams such as live concerts, multi-platform streaming (beyond YouTube), merchandising, online courses, etc. can generate more constant monthly profits.
However, most musicians cannot make it as full-time artists just through streaming. To give just one example, if a musician or band gets 100,000 streams on YouTube Music, that's a significant achievement. Yet, this is only around $800, which would probably be spent on instrument maintenance, plugins, and yearly software subscriptions, to name a few.
With more and more artists appearing on streaming services like Tidal, YouTube, Amazon, Apple, and Spotify, it's growing difficult to stand out.
Overall, we've covered all of the stats that an artist could need to know about streaming on YouTube Music based on the accessible data. But, with YouTube Music's fast-paced expansion in the streaming business, musicians wishing to explore YouTube Music now have an enormously lucrative choice.
The increasing Premium membership plan rates can be seen as a sign of good times to come. With streaming rates continuously changing, make sure to revisit this article in a few months as we update it.
Sai is a full-time music producer located in India, and is head of Faculty at D7 Media Institute. He is the most passionate music production guru I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Fantastic at sound design, mixing, and recording, Sai heads most of the review content, as well as dabbling in some mixing and mastering content too here at WCS. Give Sai any topic and he could write forever about it. He has over 10 years of experience working in the industry and has earned both Music Production and Music Composition & Piano degrees.