DECEMBER 3, 2020

Understanding How Streaming Services Pay 

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Kerri-Ann Coombs

Once you’ve released your music the focus usually shifts to how to ensure you are generating earnings. You’ve told everyone where they can find your release(s), and you’ve been playing it non-stop.

There are several factors that determine how much, if anything, is paid per stream. These include:

  • The music service that the release is being played from
  • The type of plan the listener has (free, subscription, etc)
  • How long the track is listened to
  • The country and/or currency where the play is being generated

Many services require that a song be played anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds for it to be counted as a stream, like Spotify and Apple Music. While there are certain services, like Facebook, consider a track to be a play or consumed after just 3 seconds.

There are some music services that when playing your release from your account then it won’t count towards your stream count.

Since this can all be so complicated, let’s simplify as much as possible using one question:

How many streams/plays/consumptions will it take for me to earn $1? This has several underlying factors such as:

  • What rate the outlet is using to pay performance royalties. Since a stream generates both a performance and mechanical royalty.
  • The country, and the currency the stream occurred in – rates fluctuate over time
  • The type of plan the listener has, ad-supported streams vs. Subscription supported streams

Here’s a breakdown based of the most popular streaming services:

Outlets Streams to earn $1
iHeartRadio 50 – 150
Napster 50 – 150
TIDAL 50 – 150
Apple Music 150 – 250
Spotify 200 – 300
Amazon Music 250 – 350

There are several factors that go into the revenue you receive from your music being streamed. This means that these numbers could vary for you from outlet to outlet—but we hope this provides an understanding of what to expect in general from certain services.

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