Apple Music discloses information about streaming royalties

What you'll learn in this post:
  • Apple Music pays all artists the same, regardless of which label, distributor, collecting society or publisher they are with
  • Put simply, Apple Music pays $0.01 per stream. However, they count master and publishing rights together
  • Apple clearly rejects the user-centric model

After Spotify recently launched Loud & Clear to bring more transparency into their payments, Apple Music has now also lifted the veil a little in a recent edition of their newsletter. With it, they too want to show musicians in more detail how their revenues come about. What they emphasize in particular is that they pay all their artists exactly the same rate.

While other streaming providers fork out bigger figures to major labels than they do to artists who release their music through independent labels or distributors, Apple Music insists that they use equal rates for everyone. The same applies to publishing rights, regardless of which copyright collective or publisher the artist handles their finances through or which country they are in.

Apple Music pays one cent per stream

The newsletter reports that they take 52% of the generated revenues to pay the labels and distributors for the master rights. This number corresponds to the 50-53% that Spotify disclosed. Assuming that Apple also keeps a third of the revenues for themselves, it means that 14.7% goes to the songwriters and composers for the publishing rights.

While Spotify refrains from revealing any PPS (Pay per Stream) numbers because they vary strongly from country to country, Apple Music is more concrete in their newsletter. They report an average PPS of $0.01, although this number includes both master and publishing rights together. Broken down to the master rights only, this amounts $0.0078 per stream that is paid out to the labels/distributors. For 1 million streams you would therefore get $7,800 – or $10,000 in total if you add the publishing rights. Here you can find our detailed analysis of the payouts per stream of Apple Music.

The newsletter also can’t help throwing a little shade on Spotify. Apple Music explicitly points out that you cannot buy your way into their playlists by accepting lower royalty payments, which applies to their 30,000 curated playlists as well as the personalized and algorithmically created ones. This is a feature that Spotify is currently testing out for personalized suggestions in the US.

More and more artists are cashing in

Last year, Apple Music paid royalties to 5 million artists, which is 1 million more than in 2019. The number of artists who made more than $1 million from master and publishing rights has grown by 120% since 2017 (Spotify shows a growth of 90%). The number of artists who made more than $50,000 has doubled (Spotify: 80%). However, here, Apple Music did not mention any concrete numbers.

User centric not an option for Apple

Additionally, the newsletter comments on other distribution models, specifically the user-centric model. Apple Music’s analysis has apparently shown that a switch to this system would not result in higher pay for music creators. In their opinion, a majority of the revenues would go to only a small number of labels and transparency would decrease significantly. This statement is therefore a clearer rejection of a possible system change than what Spotify has said on the matter.