How much do artists get paid per stream?

Sponsored by

Hey friends!

Today we’re going to talk about how much artists get paid per stream.

You’d hope the answer to this question would be simple, like how iTunes downloads are almost always $0.99. However the answer is complicated, and there is no one true number.

If you want to listen to today’s newsletter in podcast version, click here!

What changes the payment per stream?

Let’s talk about some factors that can change the payment per stream you get from streaming services:

  1. The individual platform your music is streamed on

  2. The country the stream occurred

  3. The type of plan the user subscribes to

  4. The distributor you use

There are other factors but these are the main ones. In the text below i’ll go over 1 and 2. The data i’m using is from my DistroKid account and represents millions of streams so it should give us some good averages.

I have access to data from Amuse and The Orchard, but nothing else. If you want to submit your royalty reports to help me crunch some more numbers to share with our community please learn more here!

We’ll get into it after a quick message from today’s sponsor…

Sponsored Ad

News with integrity. Join 1440 for FREE. 

Escape the bias bubble. Get your facts straight with 1440's daily news digest. Dive into diverse topics without the slant and join a readership of millions.

Keep in mind everything below is not factoring in individual deals artists may have with labels, management etc.

Global Pay Per Stream Rates by DSP

First, here’s a table with global pay per stream rates by DSP:

Remember, this is for the entire world. I’m just getting the total money i’ve collected from each platform and dividing it by the total amount of streams i’ve received from each platform. The ratio of countries will skew this data so take it with a grain of salt.

But immediately you’ll notice a few things:

  • Spotify is one of the worst ones, despite the fact it’s the largest DSP by monthly users by far (about 30% market share)

  • Amazon Music pays out great and has roughly a 13% market share

  • Napster and Qobuz also pay out great, but practically nobody uses these platforms in comparison

  • Apple Music, Tidal and YouTube Music are all in the middle despite me always assuming Tidal paid better than Apple and YouTube paying less than Apple

Most artists make the most money from Spotify despite the fact it pays so much less. However some will skew to different DSPs based on fan demographic or country differences.

Now all that talk about which DSP has the most market share is great and all, but what market share did I personally have from this data? Well I made a pie chart to show you.

That’s right, 93% of my streams are from Spotify. Part of this is because i’ve focused on Spotify for so long. However most artists I know have over 75% of their streams coming from Spotify even if they’re not focusing on it.

Part of me wonders if the data about Amazon having 13% and YouTube having 8% is skewed because those users have Amazon Prime or YouTube Premium. I personally have both Amazon Music and YouTube Music but I literally never use them, they’re just included in subscriptions I already pay for.

Country Pay Per Stream Rates by DSP

To more accurately compare the payment per stream we need to take the country into account, and I did that in this beautiful graph…

In this graph we’re doing the same thing as before, except looking at the US, UK, BR and CA individually. Now we’re including every DSP and country, but to take it one step further we could include distributor. Submit your royalty reports to help me for a future newsletter and possible future channel video.

Here are some things I found interesting:

  • The UK generally pays the best per stream across the board

  • The UK streams from Apple, Amazon and YouTube Music pay over 1 penny per stream

  • It’s surprising that Brazil pays comparable to the USA an

    d CA in some DSPs, despite being 3X worse in Spotify compared to the US

But the last thing I thought would be interesting is how the royalty rate changes over time.

Change Over Time

Here’s a beautiful graph showing how Spotify pay per stream rates have changed from 2018 to 2023, at least according to my DistroKid account.

Just to be clear here we’re just looking at Spotify. Each colored line is a different country, and left to right we’re looking at the payment per stream from 2018 to 2023. Also as a reminder, this is still just through DistroKid.

I was actually pleasantly surprised that the payment per stream has actually pretty much stayed the same from 2018 to 2023. While there is some drop in 2023 I feel like I can attribute this to using Spotify Discovery Mode.

Many people have claimed the payment per stream has gone down over time, but we don’t see that here. Possibly we’d see it if I had access to some older data.

What do we do with this information?

Honestly i’m not 100% sure what action we can take with this. As indie artists we don’t control where the listeners go, we really have to follow the people. Spotify pays pretty poorly but artists typically make most of their money from them due to the volume of listeners and the algorithmic playlists.

Here are some things I think we can take away from this:

  • Make sure you’re present on all platforms

  • Pay attention to where your fans naturally stream your music

  • If you’re running ads, consider adding all DSPs to your landing pages and including them in your targeting

In the past when i’ve tried doing dedicated ad campaigns for Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal etc. (because they pay much better), the cost per conversion shoots through the roof and makes it not worth it. However simply including these services on the landing page and the targeting is a fair compromise that does not impact performance.

Keep an eye out for music industry news. Platforms are constantly changing and fighting for market share. A couple years from now Apple Music or someone else could overtake Spotify and you want to be ready to jump on that opportunity if it happens.

New Content

In this video I walk you through a profitable Spotify campaign my ad agency ran using Facebook / Meta ads.

Recently I hosted a music marketing summit with over 10 hours of content from over 15 experts in the music industry, here’s some highlights:

Let's talk about how you can get your first 1,000 monthly listeners on Spotify for free!

Did you know you can listen to my music industry interviews on podcast platforms? Click here to listen to the Modern Music Marketing podcast.


Here are some music industry news highlights from the past week.

  • Apple Music is now paying up to 10% more for songs with spatial audio versions, meaning non-spatial-audio songs now get paid less

  • Apple Music is sponsoring the 2024 halftime show, and made Usher’s catalog available in spatial audio

  • Spotify hits 236 million paying subscribers globally

  • Warner Music Group is cutting another 10% of their workforce

  • Several indie labels have come out to support UMG’s battle against TikTok

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

  1. My courses. Spotify Growth Machine teaches you how to use Facebook ads to promote your music on Spotify. YouTube Growth Machine teaches you how to grow a YouTube channel organically and how to use YouTube ads. Fan Growth Machine teaches you how to build a website, online store and grow your email list.

  2. My ad agency. Forbid Media specializes in running Facebook conversion ads to promote your music on Spotify.

  3. Website / Store / Funnels. MusicFunnels is the best all-in-one platform for music artists to make a website, online store, sales funnels and build their mailing list.

  4. 1-on-1 consulting. You can book 1-hour calls with myself or Alex Bochel here.

My Links:

Discount / Affiliate Links:

If you’d rather just purchase the e-book, or physical book or audiobook you can do so here.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Music Marketing Monday! Please give your feedback using the poll below.

How did you like today's newsletter?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

In case you’re curious what platform i’m using to run this newsletter, it’s called beehiiv.

Join the conversation

or to participate.