Streaming Versus CDs for Generating Income for Artists


By Brenda Barbour


Steaming has taken the music industry by storm since 1992 when Napster/Rhapsody debuted.  Twenty-eight years later, the top five streaming services are Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Deezer and Amazon Music Unlimited, in that order.  The question has been posed many times, “Do artists make more money with the sale of CDs or from streaming their music?”

You would assume royalties are paid out based on the number of songs streamed, but that is not always the case.  There are limits based on the country and their currency where the streaming is occurring.  Whether the listener has a paid account or a free account.  The artist’s royalty rate is also a factor in determining how much the artist can earn.

Current Subscription Rates for Streaming Services

Artists Royalties from Streaming Services

For two million streams, Spotify will pay out royalties of around $8,740.00.  For that same number of streams artists will receive an estimated amount from each service:


Apple Music—–$14,700.00


Amazon Music Unlimited—$8.040.00


Generating Income from Music Streaming


There are still a few other streaming services available for artists to use like YouTube, Pandora, Google Play, and Napster.  And there are still more ways to make money with a streaming service:

  1. Accept Donations
  2. Collecting tips and payments through third-party programs
  3. Running Ads Featured with your Music Videos
  4. Agree to Brand Sponsorships and Deals
  5. Creating Pay-Per-View Content
  6. Sell your Own Merchandise
  7. Make Affiliate Sales


There’s only one way to earn money with CDs.  They must be purchased.  That singular way to earn money versus streaming multiple ways to earn money is why the CD is going the way of the Dodo bird into extinction,  It’s still possible to buy CDs, because it was once a thriving industry and former benefactors are hanging on for the last vestiges of success. Over time, they will let go and CDs will simply be collector’s items, much like 8-track tapes.

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