How Do Artists Make Money Off Apple Music?

Apple Music has become one of the most popular music streaming services, with over 60 million subscribers worldwide. But how exactly do artists get paid when their music is streamed on Apple Music? In this article, we’ll break down the business model behind Apple Music and explain how musicians can earn royalties from the platform.

How Apple Music Licensing Works

When a song gets streamed on Apple Music, the service pays mechanical royalties to the owners of the song copyright. This includes the artist, songwriter, record label, music publisher, and any other rights holders.

Apple negotiates licenses directly with major record labels like Sony, Warner, and Universal. For independent artists, Apple goes through distributors like CD Baby or TuneCore who handle the licensing agreements.

The fees collected get pooled together and distributed based on usage metrics like the number of streams each artist received.

Royalty Rates on Apple Music

Apple Music pays out royalties based on stream share – the total streams an artist received as a percentage of all streams on the platform.

According to recent estimates, Apple Music pays around $0.01 per stream to rights holders. However, the exact per-stream rate varies based on region, label deals, and more.

To put this into perspective, 1 million streams on Apple Music would earn between $10,000-$15,000 in royalties. However, the streaming economy tends to favor megastars and established acts who rack up huge streaming numbers.

Apple Music also offers slightly higher royalty rates compared to rivals like Spotify. Reports indicate Apple Music pays around 2-3% more per stream than other top streaming platforms.

Other Factors Affecting Apple Music Royalties

Beyond just the raw per-stream rate, there are several other factors that affect how much artists make from Apple Music:

  • Label deals: The label’s negotiated rate and revenue share has a big impact on royalties. Major label artists tend to get lower rates than independents.
  • Region: Apple Music pays different rates in different markets. Developed regions like the USA or Europe deliver higher royalties compared to developing markets.
  • Subscriber plans: Apple offers both individual and family plans. Artists may get lower rates from streams under family or student plans.
  • Promotions: Getting playlisted or promoted by Apple Music’s editorial team can drive more streams and royalties.
  • Album/single: Artists earn more from a full album stream compared to a single track. Releasing a full-length album tends to be more lucrative.

Tips for Maximizing Apple Music Revenue

Here are some tips for musicians looking to optimize their Apple Music payouts:

  • Claim your artist profile: Make sure you claim your official artist page on Apple Music to get access to data and royalty payments.
  • Promote new releases: Pitch exclusive premieres, interviews etc. around new releases to get Apple Music’s marketing support.
  • Engage fans: Share Apple Music links on social media and encourage fans to add songs to playlists. More saves and engagement mean more streams.
  • Monitor trends: Study Apple Music charts and playlists to identify popular genres, moods and activities you can create music around.
  • Focus on full lengths: Full album releases tend to attract more streams as fans re-listen to tracks. An EP with 5-6 songs may be more lucrative than a single.

FAQ’s on Apple Music Artist Payments

How often does Apple Music pay royalties?

Apple Music calculates and pays royalties on a monthly basis, with payments arriving 45-60 days after the end of a monthly streaming period.

Does Apple Music pay during free trials?

No, Apple Music does not pay royalties for streams during free trial periods. Royalties only kick in after a paid subscription starts.

How can I check my Apple Music royalties?

Artists can access streaming data and royalty reports by claiming their artist page on Apple Music for Artists. You’ll need to apply for and be approved for an account.

Who gets paid for music streams?

The four main groups who earn royalties are the artist, songwriter, record label, and music publisher. The percentages split between them depends on individual contracts and deals.

Can I distribute my music to Apple Music directly?

In most cases, no. Artists need to go through an authorized third-party distributor like CD Baby, Tunecore, Distrokid etc. They handle licensing and delivering music to platforms like Apple Music.


While Apple Music royalty rates are competitively high, streaming income alone is rarely enough to sustain artists. The key is using Apple Music as part of a multi-pronged strategy including merchandise, concerts, licensing and more. By actively engaging fans on the platform and delivering music tailored to what’s trending, artists can maximize their Apple Music earnings.

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