Apple reveals penny-per-play streaming rate for Apple Music artists

This update, part of a new series of newsletters, examines how creators receive royalties from Apple Music and how these have increased over time.

We believe in the value of music and compensate creators fairly for their work. Since we launched the iTunes Store in 2003, we’ve helped millions of artists and songwriters make a living from music. As the discussion about streaming royalties continues, we believe it’s important to share our values. We believe in paying the same price to every creator, that a coin has value, and that creators should never have to pay for a presentation.

While other services pay certain independent labels a significantly lower rate than they pay major labels, we pay the same overall rate to all labels. This means artists can distribute music the way they want, knowing that Apple Music will pay the same price. Sign with a label or stay independent; we believe in the value of all music.

We pay the same overall rate for all compositions.

Without songwriters, there would be no recordings. That’s why we paid each publisher and licensor the same global rate in each country. It’s also why we’ve invested millions in optimizing publishing operations to ensure songwriters get paid as quickly as possible.

While streaming service royalties are calculated based on stream sharing, a game still has value. This value varies by subscription plan and country, but averaged $0.01 for individual Apple Music paid plans in 2020. This includes label and publisher royalties.

We do not pay a lower royalty rate in exchange for the presentation

Apple Music’s team of global trendsetters manually curate 30,000 editorial playlists. These trendsetters select music based on merit and we don’t ask anyone to accept a lower royalty rate in exchange for showing. The same goes for Apple Music’s personalized playlists and algorithmic recommendations.

Because of our commitment to these values, Apple Music paid royalties to more than 5 million recording artists worldwide in 2020, more than 1 million more than in 2019. The number of artists in the records whose catalogs have generated recording and publishing royalties in excess of $1 million per year has increased by more than 120% since 2017, while the number of recording artists whose catalogs have generated more than 50,000 $ per year has more than doubled.

Like others, we have looked at other royalty models. Our analysis showed that they would result in a limited redistribution of royalties with a varied impact on artists. Per play rates would cease to be the same for each play of a song. But more importantly, the changes wouldn’t increase what all creators earn from streaming. Instead, these changes would shift royalties to a small number of labels while providing less transparency to creators around the world.

At Apple Music, we’re always focused on artists and songwriters, and finding new and innovative ways for all creators to experience music. With Apple Music, music fans everywhere enjoy an uninterrupted, ad-free experience knowing that their data is kept private and used only to enhance their overall music experience.