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Apple Music to Artists: We Pay 1 Penny Per Stream — Double What Spotify Pays

The tech giant makes the case to recording artists that it’s more artist-friendly than its chief rival

Apple Music on Friday, in a letter to recording artists reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, said it pays artists one penny per stream. The revelation could be interpreted as a not-so-subtle hint to artists that Apple Music is more creator-friendly than Spotify, its chief rival. Spotify, as the Journal points out, pays about one-third to one-half a penny per stream on average.

Apple’s letter also comes as artists, managers and fans have pushed for better payouts from streaming services, especially after the pandemic wiped out a year of touring revenue.

“As the discussion about streaming royalties continues, we believe it is important to share our values,” Apple said in its letter, per WSJ. “We believe in paying every creator the same rate, that a play has a value, and that creators should never have to pay for featuring” their music on Apple Music.

As the WSJ points out, Spotify delivers more streaming revenue to artists overall because it has a lot more users. Spotify had 345 million active users, including 155 million paying customers, by the end of 2020; the company is set to report its Q1 performance later this month. Apple Music, in comparison, had about 60 million subscribers the last time it shared an update in mid-2019.

Another key takeaway from Apple’s letter: the tech giant said it pays 52% of subscription revenue to record labels. Spotify is in that same range, paying labels 50 to 53 cents on each dollar.