It’s one thing to know a subscription service’s average royalty paid to a record label. But because every market is unique, shaped by factors such as market penetration and per-capita income, streaming service’s royalties can vary wildly across the globe.
An independent label’s March royalty statement, posted at Digital Music News, sheds light on the royalties paid in various countries by Spotify and other streaming services. It shows not just how services’ royalties compare to one another, but how countries stack up against one another.
It’s worth remembering these numbers represent just one independent label’s royalties for the month of March. They should not be considered representative of the larger record business or corollaries to the streaming royalties received by other independent labels. In addition, some countries mentioned here represented very little streaming activity, some with 10 or fewer total streams, and some with just one on a given service. These low streaming levels do not give a country’s average royalty much integrity.
This label’s highest average per-stream royalty came from YouTube, at $0.0369. Xbox Music was second with $0.0264, MediaNet (a backend service provider that powers streaming services) was third with $0.0237 cents and Guvera was fourth, with $0.0195 cents.
Four of next five spots are taken by paid subscription services: pre-Tidal Aspiro ($0.0121), Rhapsody ($0.0079), Beats Music ($0.0078), Omnifone ($0.0075) and Google Play ($0.0070). The next three spots come from subscription services with a freemium model: Spotify ($0.0050), Deezer ($0.0047) and Rdio ($0.0029). Russian streaming service Yandex ranked last at $0.0007 cents per stream.
Country comparisons are difficult because many of them produced few streams. Taking into account all services, the United States has the highest per-stream royalty, $0.0111 cents, of the countries that had more than 30 streams in March. Germany was second at $0.007 cents and Sweden was third at $0.005 cents. Brazil had the second-most streams, 369, but one of the lowest average royalties of $0.00049 cents per stream.
Spotify merits a deep dive, since the company is under such intense scrutiny. The United States accounted for 98.8 percent of the label’s streams (the United States royalty is basically the label’s average Spotify royalty). The other 1.2 percent of streams were scattered amongst 47 other countries. Because some countries delivered so few streams, these numbers should not be considered wholly representative of royalties that can be earned outside the United States.
The top country for Spotify royalties was Austria at $0.0062 cents per stream — although that royalty came from a single stream. The United States (136,366 streams) and Sweden (43 streams) were second and third with $0.0051 and $0.005, respectively. Norway (21 streams) was fourth with $0.0047 and Denmark (8 streams) was fifth with $0.0044. A common thread links these five countries: all are relatively strong markets for streaming services. What’s more, Sweden and Norway get the most recorded music revenue from streaming services — Sweden at 69.6 percent of total revenue and Norway at 62.8 percent, according to IFPI figures. (China, a far less developed music market, is excluded even though it gets 74.6 percent of total revenue from streaming.) Austria is an exception — it gets just 5.6 percent of total recorded music revenue from streaming services.
Staying with Spotify, twenty-one countries had per-stream royalties under $0.001. Many of the lowest-ranking countries had streams in the single digits. An exception is Brazil, which had an average per-stream royalty of $0.002 — third lowest — for 351 streams.
Other services were even more concentrated in the United States. Rhapsody represented 99.9 percent of the label’s streams from the United States. Xbox Music also got 99.9 percent of its streams from the United States, and the country had the highest per-stream payout.
Deezer royalties came from 30 countries, with 9 countries’ royalties higher than the average of $0.0047 cents per stream. France, which accounted for 52 percent of the label’s 186 Deezer streams, paid out $0.0039 per stream. Although it generated just one stream, Croatia had the higher royalty at $0.0404 per stream. Brazil, which accounted for the second-most number of streams, had a per-stream payout of $0.0062.
As for Rhapsody, a single stream from Greece paid out 1.25 cents per stream, the highest amount the label received from that service. The average per-stream royalty from the United States was $0.0079.
The largest share of streams came from Spotify, accounting for 24.5 percent of the label’s 562,916 streams in March. Xbox Music and Google Play were second and third with 23.4 percent and 19.9 percent, respectively. Rhapsody was fourth with 12.1 percent followed by Omnifone with 8.5 percent and Rdio with 8.1 percent. The rest — Beats Music, Aspiro (which wasn’t under Jay Z’s ownership until the end of the month), YouTube, Deezer, Yandex, Guvera and MediaNet — had 2 percent shares or less.
The source of this label’s streams appear vast differently from the overall marketplace. Spotify has more users than Xbox Music. It accounts for roughly 80 percent of one major label’s on-demand audio streams, according to sources. And Billboard analysis of 50 hit songs show Spotify, along with YouTube, accounted for more than 91 percent of total streams.
In terms of revenue, Xbox Music had the top monthly payout with $3,478.29. Runner-up Google Play paid out $786.78 and third-place Spotify paid out $691.53. Rhapsody was close behind with $537.63. Omnifone had $357.96, Rdio had $132.93 and pre-Tidal Aspiro.