The Best (and Worst) Streaming Platforms for Musicians to Earn


Just how much do musicians make online? The hard truth is not a lot.

Unless you’re a global superstar, the reality is that streaming is not the place to earn all the riches people assume the music industry has. International artists like Kanye West and Taylor Swift do make money on streaming sites and YouTube, but anyone in the music industry can tell you that the big bucks come from world tours, physical album sales, and endorsements. 

And this is why: music streaming platforms are notorious for charging a small amount every time a listener plays your song. For example, Apple pays the owner of the song’s copyright an average per-play rate of $0.01. That means that an artist’s song would have to be played 100 times before the musician even earned a dollar. 

Surprisingly though, Apple offers perhaps the best per-play rate in the music streaming industry. Amazon Music’s rate is roughly $0.005 per stream, meaning a song would need to be played 200 times to earn $1. Meanwhile, Spotify, the world’s biggest music streamer, pays only $0.0032 per stream, meaning that listeners would need to play the song 312 times before the artist earned $1. 

Infographic: The Lopsided Music Streaming Model | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista


The low rates of the music streaming industry have been hotly contested over the years, but that hasn’t stopped each app’s growth in user base. Consumers like cheap and available music, and rarely consider the money happening behind the scenes. 

Still, Apple and Spotify don’t hold a candle to Tencent Music, which requires a song to be played 2,500 times before the artist earned $1. Luckily in China, online tipping is a common practice, so musicians can earn from these types of micropayments. 

Music is already a hard industry to enter, and streaming has helped artists reach a wider base online. But the perks of streaming seem to have a cost, one that all music fans should consider when listening to OPM bands. 

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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