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Streaming revenue for individual artists are measly in the Indian market



The Indian music industry is currently ranked as the 15th highest growing sector globally and is expected to break into top 10 by 2022. In 2018, the industry’s expansion rates grew 24.5% while streaming revenue grew 31%. In contrast, global music revenue rose by 9%. So, there is no wonder that India is drawing huge investments in the music sector from even international giants.


Growth of streaming revenue

Music industry professionals attribute the growth of streaming revenue in India specifically, to three main factors:

  • Increasing penetration of internet in urban and rural areas
  • Low data costs
  • More Indians are accessing music from authentic sources

Streaming revenue was generated from audio OTT platforms, video streaming platforms, etc. In 2018, Indians also accessed their music from physical devices ( 21.2%) and synchronisation (24%).

Given that music streaming revenue performed so well last year, what are the cost implications of this revenue source? How much do leading music streaming platforms pay per stream to the players? Let’s have a look at some statistics.

Please note that most music streaming platforms or apps have a subscription as well as free/freemium models.


1. Spotify

This music streaming service was launched in early 2019. It has a slew of payment plans. These are:

a) Spotify Premium- You can subscribe to Spotify Premium for Rs. 119/month. After making your payment, you get a one-month Free Trial.

Spotify Premium can also be bought on per day, week, month, 3 months, 6 months and yearly basis.

1 Day 1 Week 1 month 3 months 6 months 1 year
INR 13 INR 39 INR 129 INR 389 INR 719 INR 1189

b) Spotify for Students -In addition, Spotify also offers a 50% discount to students on its Premium Plan. By just paying INR59/month, students can subscribe to the Premium Plan.

While these rates are quite attractive for a typical subscriber, do they make any sense to the artist?

While there are no official figures for pay-per-stream on Spotify, however, our little birdie confirmed it from the music brand’s insiders that it on an average pays an artist around 20 paise per monetised stream. This means a song that has ads running on it. To earn $1, this artist would have to monetise 300-400 streams, and there is no guarantee that Spotify will monetise all of those since ad playback is largely vague on the platform.


2. YouTube

The first place most internet users would go to for entertainment! Despite heavy segregation of the music space, with apps dedicated solely for music, YouTube still has the largest chunk of music lovers subscribing to it. Our favourite artists battle it out for the quickest million views on YouTube, and YouTube can’t deny that they benefit from the artist. However, this being said, YouTube isn’t that considerate after all!

YouTube has the worst payout per stream in the industry.

According to various sources, YT pays $0.00074 per play. Translated into Indian rupees (approx. INR 70), this figure is Rs.0518 or 0.00518 paisa. YouTube may have launched, YouTube Music, only aimed at bettering the music listening experience for its masses, but the question remains “When would the artists be a part of the betterment CSR?”.


3. JioSaavn

Of late, JioSaavn has been making waves in the Indian music streaming space. This platform has a vast music library of 50 million+ songs available in more than 16 languages. Saavn, which is now a part of Jio, has a heady mix of Bollywood music and music from independent artists like Prateek Kuhad, Zack Knight, Lost Stories on its platform. The indie artists on the platform make, hold on to your horses, 2.5 paise per stream. If you are lucky enough, you would make just Re. 1 from 40 streams. To pay for the studio rent to record your next, you would need roughly 1200 streams.


4. Apple Music

Apple has been in the Indian market for quite some time now. Like its competitors, this company too offers music on a subscription basis.

Apple music plans are quite simple- Rs. 49/month for a student, Rs. 99/ month for an individual and Rs. 149/month for a family. Music sounds good, is free of ads and the song library has 50 million tunes.

However, like Saavn and Spotify, Apple too is tight-fisted when it comes to paying individual artists in India. According to market sources, a lesser known artiste would get $0.0024 per stream from Apple. This is approximately Rs. 0.168 or 16.8 paise per stream. So, if you are planning to celebrate the cold payout, you would need at least 1000 streams to get yourself a poorly made pizza.

If you were lucky and were backed by a record label, probably you might end up with $0.005 or roughly 32 paisa. Again, make that at least 500 streams for the sob celebration to even begin!

Had you been an artist living in the US, Apple would have paid you $0.00735, triple than what you would be earning in India per stream.


5. Amazon Music

Closely following YouTube is Amazon Music. Amazon closely guards its payouts so we don’t have accurate metrics of this streaming company. Reportedly, Amazon pays $0.000402 to its individual artists in streaming revenue.

To conclude, streaming revenue for individual artists are measly in the international and Indian market. Perhaps, things will improve when more Indians start subscribing to music on streaming platforms like Saavn, Spotify, Apple Music or Gaana.


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Akanksha Holani

Author: Akanksha Holani

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