An important distinction in deciding which service will give artists more of your
money is premium (subscription) vs. free (ad-supported). Premium subscription plans always pay out more than free, ad-supported plans. Apple Music is subscription-only, as has been Tidal until very recently. Amazon Music, Spotify, and YouTube offer both. When looking at aggregate figures, of course the services with free plans do poorly. Break out Amazon Music Unlimited
, Spotify Premium
, and YouTube Premium
(formerly Red), and they fare relatively better. Tidal even has another tier above Free and HiFi called HiFi Plus, which will give your most played artist $2 on top of whatever else they would get.
Average payout per stream is constantly in flux and will vary based on the above as well as by artist, licensing agreements, country, etc. Streaming platforms don't actually pay a flat rate per stream. They divvy up revenue by percentage of streams. Deezer and Tidal payouts are user-centric
, meaning they only look at the number of your
streams of an artist as a ratio of your
total streams. Most of the others (all the majors) look at the number of streams of an artist across all
users. Studies have shown mixed results, but the end result is generally the same.
It's a complex topic, and your choice of subscription should likely come down to other factors. No streaming platform can compete with directly supporting artists/labels via their own websites, merch tables, and Bandcamp. (Today is Bandcamp Friday
, when all revenue after payment processing fees goes to artists/labels.) For an in-depth treatment, see: What Music Streaming Services Pay Per Stream (And Why It Actually Doesn’t Matter)