Apple to pay 0.2 cent per song during Apple Music free trial

“For each song that is streamed free, Apple will pay 0.2 cent for the use of recordings, a rate that music executives said was roughly comparable to the free tiers from services like Spotify,” Ben Sisario reports for The New York Times.

“This rate does not include a smaller payment for songwriting rights that goes to music publishers; Apple is still negotiating with many publishers over those terms, several publishing companies confirmed on Wednesday,” Sisario reports. “According to the music executives, these rates would apply to all labels. For independents, the negotiations with Apple are seen as a victory, allowing thousands of small labels to be part of Apple Music and earn money when people listen to their songs.”

“But a lingering issue is how much credit goes to Ms. Swift. Without her involvement, some executives said, a deal would most likely not have been reached so quickly,” Sisario reports. “Others, like Adrian Pope, managing director of the British label PIAS, insisted that her involvement only finished what others had already begun. ‘Despite what one might read,’ Mr. Pope said, in a statement quoted by the music website The Quietus, ‘this was not entirely down to Taylor Swift.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Giving Taylor Swift the full credit is what the choreographers of this manufactured conflict and resolution intended. Just play along, Adrian.


  1. Wow!

    That’s very generous of Apple. I hope they don’t spend the whole 200 billion on those struggling, hard working artists.

    Whose idea was it anyway to produce a service on the backs of artists, but make them pay the bulk of start up costs upfront?

    Oh yeah, I suppose that would be the same guy that sold a 100 dollar Macbook for 13 times that much, while secretly laughing behind closed doors about how gullible his loyal fan base is to buy the POS, even if it only had one single, unheard of port.

    Or the guy who took a 2-dollar watch band and sold it for over 50 bucks (at least tried to anyway). Let’s not forget the 42-dollar watch for as much as $17,000!

    Are we even surprised Cook tried to get away with this.

      1. @gavin

        Would this course teach me how to unethically abuse, alienate and abjectly overcharge my loyal, existing, customer base.

        I’ll pass.

        Steve Jobs was many things, but amongst his admirable qualities was the fact that he was a fair and equitable human being. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing about the new Apple.

    1. Orandy,
      Do you ever read what you write before posting, or just rant, post and leave???
      Your numbers are all cloud (as in just whisps in the air) and moaning that you are not rich.

      .2 cents per song transmitted. A person turns on the music, walks away and comes back an hour later. Yeah, just how much of that money was actually listened to? If you love the music, spend 99 cents and listen to it forever!
      PS, if the artist has signed with one of the many crappy music companies, they really don’t get any money from the studio, only from touring and even then the studios try to muscle in and get money from the audience that it will not pay back to the artist.

      The smartest artist will be very hands on business wise to the rights and payments for their music. Sadly too many do not want to work at the business side and they lose out.

      Just ask some of the 70’s bands that found out that the songs they made popular DO NOT belong to them and not even the group name belongs to them, they belong to the studio. Sad but true.

      So, orandy, consider growing a pair and doing some research before posting. Just a thought.

      1. @eldernorm

        So according to your bizarre logic, Apple should continue to perpetuate the exploitation of recording artists because they already have a history of being exploited by the music industry… so they are used to it now anyway?


        I would argue that, on the contrary, Apple has a responsibility to treat the artists that they are building their business with fairly. Remember, the world is watching, and somewhere so is SJ.

        According to Cook, you shouldn’t discriminate against the LGBT, you should eradicate emblems of hate, but when it comes to ripping off recording artists, well that’s just as American as Hostess Twinkies (no pun intended).


  2. My radio is on 8 hours or more each day. That play time equates to 160 3 minute songs per day, or 14,400 songs over a 90 day period. At 0.2 cents per song that works out to $28.8. That is not much different than the $10 per month that the streaming service will cost. Seems fair to me.

  3. I wish people would get how to correctly write money values.
    in the emailed headline, it reads: “Apple to pay $0.2 cent per song during Apple Music free trial” which makes no sense at all. $0.2 is 20 cents. Then in the articles is says 0.2 cent, which is 20% of a penny, or 1/5 of a penny. In other words, the royalties on 5 songs would amount to 1 cent (or $0.01) Which is it???

    1. It is the latter. The actual royalty is US$ 0.002, or ¢0.2.

      Apple would go bankrupt by the end of three months if they were to pay ¢20 (US$0.2) for each song streamed.

    2. Looks like that has been corrected to 0.2 cents which makes a lot more sense than 20 cents.
      So essentially you would have to play a song 645 times to match the cost of purchasing the song. That is a lot of plays.
      Not many people have the ability to music 8 hours a day so ET example is the worst case scenario.
      Anyway, I will be signing up for the family membership. Worth a try.

    3. kewo62,

      Many many people in the US are just plain dumb like this. There is a restaurant that I frequent about once a month. For two years after they opened, they had a sign on the counter:

      “Mints: .20 cents” My uncle and I both argued with them that the stated price is equal to 5 for a penny. Even guests when asked what the price said, would say 20 cents each. After 2 years and a probably a few other people’s arguments, they finally changed it.

  4. If Apple is offering the same pay scale as Spotify free tier, and Taylor Swift doesn’t put her music on Spotify because she feels the deal is rotten, will she think itthe same deal is rotten coming from Apple?

    At .2¢ per play, a million plays works out to $2,000. Not a lot. It takes about 5,000 plays to net the artist the same as 1 iTunes download.

    Can’t do streaming, it screws too many hard working, talented people. There are some games it’s OK to be late to, even OK to never show up. Shame on Apple.

      1. Note my clarification. You are absolutely correct. And I do like your scale. 500 plays is the same as 1 song sale. Maybe not so bad. My context was distorting the view.

        Apple is back off of my shameful list.

    1. Slightly less; the 0.2¢ per day is the artists share; the $1 iTunes download prices gross; artists (actually, label’s) share is $0.87 (Apple keeps $0.12, and the actual price is $0.99, not $1).

      This still means that, if a music fan listens to that one song every single day, he’d need to listen to it for 12 years in order for the artist to make as much money from it through streaming as they would if they sold the song for $99.

      I would like to find out if this rate (¢0.2 per stream) remains in force after the free trial, or if it is just the initial deal, to placate the artists.

      Either way, apparently, this is what Spotify and Pandora pay the artists, and it is no wonder why music industry is displeased with streaming. While Apple saved their industry from implosion, it did expose their abusive aspect (the artificial construct of the ‘album’), allowing people to buy individual songs and significantly impacting revenue (when consumers stopped buying crappy filler songs and only bought the good ones). The industry is still trying to figure out how to force the ‘album’ on the audience, and they hadn’t had much success. The streaming business has only made things worse, totally commoditizing their product.

      Apple didn’t go into this in order to destroy music industry; nor did they do it to force it into submission and control it. Apple’s strategic goal is to save them, so that they can, with their help, sell their hardware, with best software and service offerings on the market. In the end, this may force the consumers to pay more than they did during the free-for-all streaming transition (Spotify / Pandora), but that may be the only way for the music industry to actually survive. After all, we all love music; we all have music on our iPhones, and we listen to music virtually every day. There will always be a demand, as well as someone to meet that demand. The value will be determined by our readiness to pay for the ability to get the music we like in a way we want. Apple will likely end up being the most important player in that transaction.

      1. Go with the $1.29 track pricing. The math gets a lot easier. A track sale nets the artist $1.00, the same as 500 streaming plays at 0.2¢ per stream. That’s a better context than my apples to oranges comparison of payments per stream vs album sales. Maybe I need to go back to three cups of coffee in the morning.

        I agree with your take on Apples motives and I do see them as a point of hope for the artists (musicians, writers and producers) in the trenches. Music is a hard business and they need all of the breaks they can get. I saw an interview with one of the producers of Nashville, the TV series. They put out the word they needed some original music for use in the show and got 50,000 songs submitted for consideration the NEXT day. People with aspirations, just hoping for a chance.

  5. So Tim Cook said there are 800 million iTunes users this last earnings call. How many of the 800 million would sign up for Apple Music. I would venture to say 2% of that number. Which would be 16 million people. So if one song from one artist gets played once to lets say a fourth of 16 million…so 4 million. What does that come out too?

    .2 = 1/5 a penny

    4,000,000 divided by 5 = 80,000 pennies.

    100 cents in a dollar.

    80,000 divided by 100 = 800 bucks.
    So an artist stands to make maybe 800 bucks every few days maybe. whats that in a month…lets say 800 every other day.

    800 x 15 = 12,000 dollars. Not the worst paycheck in the world.

    1. Don’t forget this tweet by Bette Midler last year:

      .@Spotify and @Pandora have made it impossible for songwriters to earn a living: three months streaming on Pandora, 4,175,149 plays=$114.11.

      I luckily got close to the same amount on Apple music with 4 million plays…so good comparison i would say.

  6. I am not a lawyer, but I suspect the decision to match Spotify and Pandora’s payment rate may have been made with an eye toward anti-trust concerns. If Apple offers a higher royalty than the other services during the trial period, it could theoretically be accused of using its market position in music (and everything else) to unfairly compete. Offer the same amount, and it’s harder for the others to make that claim. Just a theory.

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