Why Spotify doesn't actually "pay less" than Apple or Tidal

Let's clear this up

Welcome, artists & builders.

Today, I’m clearing the air on a common misconception about the rates platforms pay per stream. Don’t shoot me, I’m just bringing facts. Plus, new tools.

Inside Issue #31

  • 💡 Why streams pay what they pay

  • ⚒️ An AI co-manager

  • 🗞️ Spotify’s new music-only tier + more

Why Streams Pay What They Pay

"Tidal and Apple Music pay more than Spotify"


This is a common misunderstanding.

What you think is a dunk on Spotify is actually a flex for them.

These platforms all have the same basic payout setup, it's just that Spotify listeners are SO MUCH MORE ENGAGED that it drives the per stream rate down.

This is mostly a good thing.

They all do ~70% of subscription revenue split pro-rata with all songs*, and they all essentially have the same subscription fees ($10.99/mo US premium).

So, why the difference?

The main factors that affect payouts:

1. Where You Listen: A subscriber in India pays less than an American one, so a US stream pays more than one in India. Spotify is growing faster than global competitors in emerging markets, which tends to bring down the per stream rate.

2. What Plan You Have: Spotify allows free users, plus has bundles like Duo & Family6 which really bring down the per stream rate. Apple is premium only, but also have bundles. They all do.

Family plan streams pay similar to ad-supported streams, but there’s many more of them - so it’s the heaviest weight pulling the average down.

Spotify payout rate by plan (my label, Sept 2023)

But, Rob...even Spotify premium in the US is lower than Apple - what's going on?

This is where #3 comes in.

3. How Much People Stream: Platforms don't decide per stream rates. They simply pay it out pro-rata. Since they all have the same basic fees & structure, the level of engagement significantly affects the rate.

Spotify listeners stream far more than other platforms.

This brings the per stream rate down.

It's a flex, not a knock.

And listen - I get it.

The system is wildly broken & feels unfair, but it's important to actually understand what you're talking about when pushing for change or improvement.

The main culprit here is pro-rata.

We should be using fan-centric.
We should have higher subscription fees.
We should connect artists more directly to fans.
We should provide more ways for artists to monetize.

Because here’s the thing:

This passive consumption game only works at scale.

We need to focus on new models that increase fandom, connection & music's value.

We need to value artists.
Not just "content".

💨 Quick Hits

  1. Spotify raising prices by $1 again: Plus, adds music-only tier.

  2. Why music festivals are cancelling: by Dan Runcie

  3. Is SunoAI trained on copyrighted recordings?: A look into music’s hottest gen-AI startup.

  4. Pharrell releases album direct to fans: Not available on streamers.

  5. Bandsintown adds Waitlist feature: Gather fan contacts on sold-out shows.


Your AI Co-Manager

Co-Manager is a new AI music career assistant offering personalized guidance based on your streaming data & expert knowledge.

And it all sits within Venice’s distribution dashboard.

Co-Manager can:

  • Create a pitch

  • Plan a release strategy

  • Devise a paid ad campaign

  • Identify playlist curators to target

  • Refresh your bio on Spotify + socials

  • Give you last week’s follower growth

  • Provide tips to grow your Youtube channel

  • Recall ISRC codes, artist IDs & other metadata

Conversational recall via OpenAI & tailored best practices for artists without dedicated teams.

Why we like it: There’s millions of artists who can easily create & distribute, but don’t know what to do next. Maybe assistive AI tools can democratize knowledge — at least on the basics. They will work best within your data & action-taking ecosystem.

🤖 Co-Manager just launched in beta to Venice pro customers.

4 more assistive tools

  1. Symphony OS → Fanbase growth on autopilot.

  2. Un:Hurd → Tailored marketing campaigns for your first $250.

  3. Catapult → Self-service promo platform for indies.

  4. United Masters Blueprint → A personal coach in your pocket

- Rob