Which Streaming Service Pays Musicians The Most?

which streaming service pays musicians the most - decibel peak academy

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Maybe you’d like to know which streaming service to promote your music on. Maybe you’d like to know which streaming service supports your favourite artist/band the most. Whether you’re the artist/musician or the loyal fan, I’m sure you’ll want to know which streaming services pays musicians the most.

If you came to find out which streaming service pays musicians the most, you’ll be surprised to know that Napster pays musicians the most. Why would you be surprised about that? Back in the day of illegal mp3 downloads, Napster was actually brought to court by several artists/musicians (including Metallica) for hosting these illegal mp3 downloads. However, they seem to be “making things right” by paying approximately 2 cents per stream ($0.019 to be more precise). Is Napster still the best place to promote your music though? There’s still more data to consider so that’s what the rest of this article will be dedicated to. Let’s get started!

How are artists compensated by streaming services?

It’s important to understand how artists get paid on streaming services. First of all, you need to realize that most artists have their music on MANY different streaming services (if not all of them).

Lastly, you need to understand that streaming services don’t usually pay musicians directly.

In the past, it’s always been the record label that took care of administration. However, you’ll most likely get paid by your music distribution service if you’re releasing your music independently (or through an independent label).

In other words, streaming services simply report your stream counts and transfer funds to the appropriate third-part on a quarterly (every 3 months) basis.

That means that you don’t literally get paid “per stream”.

It’s also worth noting that some music distributors have minimum payout thresholds (for example, $50) and some of them even take commissions on your earnings (up to 15% at times).

As both an artist/musician and consumer of music, you should be aware of this.

It’ll help you decide which streaming service is worth your “vote”.

Which music streaming service pays the most?

As I said in the introduction, it’s Napster’s streaming service that currently pays artists the most. However, Napster is also the LEAST popular music streaming service with less than 1% of the market share.

That’s most likely due to their shady history of pirating music.

Well, technically they weren’t the ones doing it… Which is why they got away with it!

The thing is… It’s much easier to earn your full-time income by streaming your music on Napster. It would actually take about 80,000 streams per month to pay your most basic expenses. That’s pretty realistic if you’ve got some consistent followers.

Napster pays about 2 cents ($0.019) so you do the math for yourself!

However, you’ll have to decide if that makes up for the past. You’ll also need to measure whether your fans are loyal enough to subscribe to Napster’s service for you.

Well, it wouldn’t be JUST for you.

Maybe you can promote them on your social media/blog to spread the word?

The closest alternative to Napster would be Tidal coming in at $0.0125 per stream (which is still pretty decent). Just keep in mind that Tidal is used primarily by fans of Jay-Z (it’s his platforms after all).

In other words, the genre of your music will determine whether that’s a good deal or not.

Apple Music is the third-best option coming in at $0.00735 per stream (we’ll be talking about Apple music in the next section).

So here comes the real question… Which streaming service will YOU make the most money with. That answer won’t be the same for everybody, so we also need to consider WHO is using each music streaming service.

There may also be multiple answers to that question.

The best way to start is by getting to know your fanbase. Do they like Jay-Z?

If not, then you probably won’t do as well on Tidal as you would on other platforms. Were they born before or after the Napster incident?

If your fans are mostly millennials, then they MAY be more forgiving and take your lead.

The truth is though… Apple Music and Spotify currently hold the majority of the market share.

In other words, Apple Music and Spotify are the most popular music streaming services. However, Spotify pays significantly less than Apple Music coming in at $0.00437. That’s a BIG difference compared to Napster’s $0.019, isn’t it?

Most of your friends probably use Spotify though, don’t they?

Which streaming services should you promote and/or use?

If it came down to Apple Music and Spotify, we can’t really pick one of them. Unless you were 100% CERTAIN that your listeners used Apple Music exclusively, I still recommend promoting your music on Spotify.

Unless you really dislike Spotify that much… I’ll leave that up to you.

If we’re comparing Napster and Tidal though, they’ve both got their issues. Even Tidal has had some bad press in the past, so I don’t think you’ll get too lucky promoting these platforms.

If you want to add them in there though, I’d recommend using only one of the two.

That decision should be pretty easy if you know your fans and know how to collect analytics. Your music will most likely be distributed to those stores anyway. However, remember that you, as the artist, can control WHICH stores your music gets distributed to.

If you want to be “pushy”, you can only have your music streaming on ONE streaming platform.

Just make sure that your fans ARE loyal or you might be taking a risk there.

Another platform worth considering is YouTube. It’s actually the most popular streaming platform for video, but you can also monetize your music on YouTube. If you play your cards right, you can significantly increase your overall streaming income.

Keep in mind that YouTube pays the LEAST compared to ALL streaming services.

On that note, I personally promote my music on Spotify and Apple Music (with a preference for Apple Music). If you have any questions or would like a personal recommendation from me, leave your comment down below. I hope you found this article insightful, remember to share it with your network to raise awareness about this important topic!






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