- The streaming giant detailed its royalty scheme in a letter to artists, labels and publishers, delivered Friday.
Apple Music sent a letter out to artists, labels and publishers on Friday, stating they pay out an average of a penny a stream.
The statement can be seen as an unspoken jab at Spotify, the streaming industry leader that has long been criticized for what musicians' groups describe as unfair royalty payouts. Apple Music has 60 million paid subscribers, compared to Spotify's 155 paid subscribers and 345 million active users.
A penny per stream would put Apple Music's payouts at over double Spotify's, though the stat is somewhat misleading. Apple estimates a one-cent royalty payout (it can also dip lower), but its actual payouts are determined on a stream share basis—a song's percentage of overall streams on the service, not on a per-stream basis. Those payouts are then made to rights holders, a group that can include labels, publishers or other distributors, who in turn pay out artists based on percentage splits laid out in recording, publishing or distribution agreements.
"As the discussion about streaming royalties continues, we believe it is important to share our values," Apple said in its letter, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal. "We believe in paying every creator the same rate, that a play has a value, and that creators should never have to pay for featuring music in prime display space on its service."
The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers weighed in on Apple Music's letter. A penny per stream has long been a key demand of the musicians' group.