It’s pretty widely understood that despite the music streaming service boom bringing a pulse back to the ailing music industry, it doesn’t exactly line the pockets of the musicians that are actually providing the ‘content’.

On-demand digital music platforms and cheap subscription-based services to huge libraries of music might be great for consumers, but there’s been a growing chorus of artists (such as Grizzly Bear, Atoms For Peace, Amanda Palmer etc.) crying foul over the pitiful royalties they are paid by the likes of Spotify, Deezer, Rdio et al.

But new figures have now actually answered the burning question: Well, how much are artists actually getting paid per stream?

The veritable ‘streaming price index’ has been provided by an independent record label that wishes to remain anonymous (telling within itself), as The Music Network (via The Trichordist) reports.

Gathering data from multiple streaming services from a catalogue of roughly 1,500 songs between January 2012 to 1st February 2014, the anonymous label pieced together flat royalty rates – before distribution fees and other deductions are made – to give a raw impression of how the various services compensate music-makers per stream. Interestingly, of the 13 services profiled, the most recognisable names are also some of the lowest paying.

Swedish phone-makers Nokia take home bragging rights for the highest paying, offering around $0.07411 per stream, while Google’s All Access Music service offers just over half that amount, at an average $0.04573 per stream, while Microsoft’s Xbox Music comes in third, providing $0.03212 per stream.

Interestingly, of the 13 services profiled, the most recognisable names are also some of the lowest paying.

French streaming service Deezer (which recently closed down its Australian offices) offers a significantly smaller $0.00754 per stream, followed closely by Rdio’s $0.00692 per stream. Then comes Spotify.

Though the Swedish-born company attempted to make its royalty schemes more transparent with the launch of the Spotify Artsits platform last December – shortly after it celebrated its 5th birthday and 24 million users – the new streaming index shows it paying around half-a-cent; at the bottom end of the royalty spectrum with $0.00521 per stream.

The worst paying rates however come from MySpace Music with $0.00094  per stream, and scraping in at the very bottom, Amazon Cloud with $0.00012 per stream.

The updated ‘Streaming Index’. Amount in dollars. (Source: The Trichordist)

Of course, you might look at those low royalty rates and think ‘well, there’s thousands of people streaming tracks at any one time?’ – it all adds up.

In some cases that may be correct, but it at such low rates – and with record labels, rights-holders, and other licensees taking their cut of profits before they reach artists – those streaming royalties don’t pile up to huge mountains of cash.

Further proof comes from a recent Aux report which shows the embarrassingly pay cheques that some artists receive from streaming payouts, in an article entitled ‘7 royalty cheques that’ll make you lose your faith in the music industry’.

Among the artists who have contributed to the exposé are metal bands Trivium and instrumental band Isis – with leader Aaron Harris noting of his royalty cheque “I usually laugh, tear it up, and throw it away”.

Wince at those two band’s royalty cheques below and view the rest over at



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