Friday, Nov 04, 2022, 16:00 Apple services

Comparison: What Streaming Services Pay Artists – Apple Vs. Spotify Vs. Tidal

For almost 20 years, the music industry has experienced motion in almost only one direction – downwards. 1999 was its best year – shortly after which things took a drastic turn downhill as the rise of download music became impossible to stop. It wasn't until 2015 that things started to look a little bit better, which was entirely due to the success of streaming services. The most recent numbers indicate streaming services possessing around a 75% share of the market, with traditional CDs barely making up 1/10th.

Little Earned Per Playback – Of Which There Are Many
At first it seems rather paradoxical that such small allowances as those paid to artists per playback would lead to higher overall sales. However, the calculation is quite simple – even when earnings are only around a cent per played song, individual titles achieve far more listens than a single sold album ever would – meaning more money in the long run.



A current overview shows the differences in compensation between Apple Music, and Spotify. One important aspect to take into account is that Apple doesn't offer any unpaid access to its streaming service, whereas Spotify relies on both subscriptions and advertising models for payment. Accordingly, the average compensation for artists is significantly lower with Spotify. L.Dre names two concrete examples:

  • 4.7 Million Streams On Apple Music: US$24,200
  • 4.5 Million Streams On Spotify: US$11,700

Compensation: Apple Music vs. Spotify
Calculated by all titles, Apple Music pays about one cent per playback – however, this is not an exact figure (see the figures above). Should a user listen to an album with 12 titles once, the artist will earn approximately US$1.20. The more often users listen to their favorite songs, the better for the artists. Especially interesting for the music industry are the playback lists – artists who appear in them can quickly achieve hundreds of thousands of listens.

Spotify, however, is worse when it comes to this – with each playback only earning around 0.3 cents. If every single user had a subscription, then compensation would be slightly higher than even that of Apple Music – although Spotify's "free" access (with ads) results in less compensation overall for artists.

The Best For Artists: Tidal
Tidal reveals itself to be considerably generous when compared to the other major streaming service providers – compensating artists US¢1.3 per listen. However, there's also something slightly special about Tidal: Those subscribed to "HiFi Plus" (one of Tidal's main attractions) for studio quality music help artists even more. US$2.00 go directly to the artist with the most playbacks recorded by the subscribed user each month – almost exactly as much as if the customer had purchased a CD from the artist.

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