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Apple Music Reportedly Paying Artists $.002 Per Play During Three-Month Trial

blame it on Patrick Glynn June 23, 2015
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Yesterday, Apple revealed it would pay artists during its free three-month trial after an open letter from Taylor Swift (and indie labels) pushed them over the edge of doing so.

Today, though, we’ve found out Apple will be paying artists $0.002 per play, according to Digital Music News. This figure is about one-third to one-forth less than what Spotify, music streaming’s biggest company, pays its artist – which, according to their website, pays artists anywhere from .006 to .0084 dollars per play.

During Apple’s free trial, it will take an artist about 50,000 plays to make $100. With Spotify, an artist gets paid $100 for anywhere from approximately 12,000 to 16,500 plays. These figures are before record labels take out its cut. According to an article in The Guardian, after a record label takes its cut, an artist, on average, gets $0.0011 per play through Spotify. Because of this, artists need to anywhere from six-to eight-times more plays to make $100 through Spotify. For instance, if Spotify is paying an artist $0.008 per play, the artist would need about 12,000 plays to make $100. But because, on average, artists only get $0.0011 per, they would need eight times more plays to make $100. That’s 96,000 plays. For $100. On Spotify.

So if an artist’s music is streamed on Apple Music, it will take them four times as many plays, during this three-month trial, to make the same $100 they would on Spotify (if said artist was getting paid $0.008 per stream). And after the record label takes out its cut, an artist’s song(s) would need almost 400,000 plays during the three-month trial period to make $100.

According to Spotify, it gives artists (a.k.a. record labels) 70 percent of the revenue, which averages out to each artist getting between $0.006 to $0.0084 per play. Based on my brief research and common sense, artists like Drake and Kendrick Lamar will get paid more than someone like Thundercat or Vince Staples. They just aren’t as big, thus don’t generate as much revenue.

Once the three-month trial runs up, Apple Music will share 71.5 percent of its revenue with artists (once again, a.k.a. record labels, for the most part), according to Business Insider. While that’s slightly more than Spotify and the industry average, an extra one-and-a-half percent will make minimal impact on how much an artist gets paid per play.

The music-streaming industry is far from perfect, and it’ll be interesting over time to see if they find way to get money directly the artist and not have to go through record labels.

UPDATE: Turns out, Apple might be matching Spotify as it’s now being reported that they are expected to pay out 0.2 cents per stream.

For each song that is streamed free, Apple will pay 0.2 cent for the use of recordings, a rate that music executives said was roughly comparable to the free tiers from services like Spotify. This rate does not include a smaller payment for songwriting rights that goes to music publishers; Apple is still negotiating with many publishers over those terms, several publishing companies confirmed on Wednesday.

Additionally, Billboard suggests that Apple may also pay out an extra 0.047, for a total of 0.247 per stream.