How Much Does Apple Music Pay Per Stream?

If you’re like most people, then chances are that you’re streaming music at this very moment, and you may very well be doing so on Apple Music. 

With tens of millions of subscribers worldwide, Apple Music has become one of the biggest players in the music streaming game. But have you ever stopped to wonder how much the artists that you’re listening to are getting paid for each stream? Well, wonder no more because we’ve got you covered.

Let’s explore the topic of Apple Music payouts per stream and all the juicy details that go along with it.

In This Article:

  • What Does Apple Music Pay Per Stream?
  • What Determines Payout Rate?
  • How Many Users Does Apple Music Have?
  • What Doesn’t Affect The Per-Stream Payout Rate

What Does Apple Music Pay Per Stream?

When it comes to music streaming platforms, the pay per stream rate can vary greatly between companies. However, according to recent data, it appears that Apple Music is leading the way in terms of compensation for artists with one of the largest figures per play–or, at least it’s one of the better options for musicians.

With an average pay per stream rate of $0.01–one cent–the tech giant pays about double what its main competitor, Spotify, offers. The Swedish streaming platform pays only between $0.003  and $0.005 per stream, which is significantly lower.

Although one cent may not sound like much, it is important to note that this is actually a very competitive rate in the industry. This discrepancy–at least between Apple Music and Spotofy–can be attributed to Spotify’s enormous user base. The company now claims 500 million monthly active users, which means that the platform has to divide its total royalties among more users, resulting in a lower payout per stream.

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In a post on its own website, Apple Music states:

While royalties from streaming services are calculated on a stream share basis, a play still has a value. This value varies by subscription plan and country or region but averaged $0.01 for Apple Music individual paid plans in 2020.”

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What Determines Payout Rate?

Just how much Apple Music pays per stream varies due to two main factors.

1. Type of Listener

Apple Music offers unlimited listening to the tens of millions of songs in its library for a fee of $9.99 per month. That’s now the industry standard, which is impressive, as it pays so much more than many of the other companies in this space, yet it doesn’t charge more in order to do so.

The benefits of a paid subscription extend beyond the listener, as artists also stand to benefit from higher royalty rates. As more users stream music from a paid subscription plan, the average pay per stream rate increases, leading to a higher payout for artists and creators. 

2. Where Listeners Are

The second important factor that is taken into consideration when Apple Music is figuring out how much to pay rights holders every time a song is streamed is where listeners are tuning in from. It might not seem important, but this can actually have a significant impact on the overall pay rate.

It’s a well-known fact in the music industry that users from different countries, regions, and territories pay varying amounts for Apple Music. While subscribers in more developed nations typically pay more, those in emerging economies may pay significantly less. This means that an artist who has a large following in a wealthier country like the United States or Japan may earn more per stream than someone with the same number of plays in a country with a lower GDP per capita.

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Geography also comes into play when taking into consideration users who opt for an ad-supported plan (as opposed to paying for a subscription), as ad rates can vary quite a bit from one part of the world to another.

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How Many Users Does Apple Music Have?

Unlike Spotify, Apple Music is very careful with what data it reveals to the public, including the number of people listening, either as paid or free users. According to one report that takes into account figures that are now at least a year old (as of early 2023), Apple Music boasts an impressive 15% share of the global music platform subscription market. This translates to over 78 million paid subscribers, a testament to the platform’s solid fanbase and loyal user community.

Another source claims that figure is actually higher–closer to 88 million. Apple Music won’t confirm or deny any of them, so this is all just intelligent conjecture.


What Doesn’t Affect The Per-Stream Payout Rate

Some streaming music platforms strike deals with rights holders and record labels that favor one over the other, and sometimes these deals can affect what the musicians themselves earn. While that may be the case for a handful of competitors, Apple Music insists it doesn’t engage in that kind of behavior.

On its website, Apple Music says in no uncertain terms:

While other services pay some independent labels a substantially lower rate than they pay major labels, we pay the same headline rate to all labels. This means artists can distribute music however they like, knowing Apple Music will pay the same rate. Sign with a label or stay independent; we believe in the value of all music.”

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