A billion streams used to be unthinkable but today it’s a lot more common than you’d think. Take YouTube for example, where there’s now more than 300 videos that have hit the billion mark. That does beg the question – how much do you make for a billion YouTube streams? Billboard took a deep dive into this and what it found was surprising in many ways.
First of all, understand that no two royalty payouts are the same. That’s because of a number of variables like:
- Label affiliation
- Location where the stream came from
- The advertiser attached
- The time of year
- Which tier did most of the streams come from (paid or ad supported)
- Did most of the streams come from the official video or from fans posting the song to their videos
Of these, the most unexpected was that major label artists earn higher rates on the platform than those who are unsigned or affiliated with an indie label. Billboard found that a major label artist would make a blended average of $0.0038 per stream, while an indie artist would make $0.0026 per stream.
That translates to $3.8 million for the label artist, and $2.6 million for the indie artist. That doesn’t seem too far, does it?
Understand the the per stream number is what’s known as a “blended” average. That means the average royalty from official video versus fan videos (which pay around $0.0021 per stream), paid versus ad supported tier, and the location where most streams come from (the U.S. pays higher than other parts of the world, for instance).
Don’t forget this is the gross royalty before the label takes its cut (anywhere from 50 to 80%), payouts to producers or featured artists, or management.
You’re probably thinking that isn’t all that much money considering the huge number of YouTube streams. Keep in the mind that if a song is that big on YouTube, then it’s probably getting a pretty good amount of action on other platforms as well. Add it all up and having one of these monster hits turns into a nice chunk of change.