How Much Do Streaming Services Pay to Artists? Not Much. This Chart Illustrates Everything.

First, you can’t draw an equivalency between the stream of a song and a sale of a song. A stream is more like a listen on the radio. A sale is one-time purchase. Because it leads to physical possession of the music (CD, vinyl, digital file), it costs more and therefore pays out more to the artist. But with fewer people buying music, artists are rightfully concerned about their future revenue streams. And streaming just doesn’t pay.

This is not the fault of the streaming companies. They have to negotiate licensing fees with record labels, publishers and copyright boards which then tell the streamers how much they have to shell out. In the end, though, it’s the artists who are taking it in the groin.

Infomation Is Beautiful has this handy chart that shows hope much the streaming service pay out to artists as of June 2017. Click on the image for a better look and an explanation of what it all means.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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