How Much Does SoundCloud Pay Per Stream: A Concise Analysis

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By Jacob Maslow

The music streaming industry has come a long way in recent years, with various platforms competing for the attention of both listeners and artists. SoundCloud, a popular platform that allows musicians to upload and share their music, has its unique place among these services. One of the questions frequently raised by artists considering the platform is how much SoundCloud pays per stream.

SoundCloud’s payment system can be affected by various factors, such as the country or region the streams are coming from and whether the listener is on a paid or free plan. On average, SoundCloud paid around $0.003275 per stream in 2020 and 2022. This figure is comparable to payments made by other platforms, such as Spotify, thus making SoundCloud a viable option for artists aiming to monetize their music.

Musicians must understand the intricacies of streaming royalties and consider this information when deciding which platform to host their music. SoundCloud’s unique listener base and flexible approach to artist royalties may provide a suitable means of income, depending on the artist’s goals and target audience.

How Soundcloud Calculates Pay Per Stream

Factors Affecting Payouts

Several factors come into play when calculating the royalties for artists on Soundcloud. These factors include the listener’s location and country/region, whether the listener has a paid or free account, and Soundcloud’s fan-powered royalties model. These factors combined determine the final pay-per-stream rate for artists on the platform.

Fan-Powered Royalties

In contrast to some traditional streaming platforms, Soundcloud has implemented a fan-powered royalties model. This model aims to create a more equitable revenue distribution among artists by tailoring payouts based on listener engagement. This means that the more fans an artist has and the more they engage with their music, the higher their share of the revenue pool.

Location and Country/Region

Another factor that affects the royalty rate for artists on Soundcloud is the listener’s location and country/region. Soundcloud has different royalty rates for various regions, as the value of ad revenues and subscriptions can vary significantly from one country to another. As a result, an artist’s pay-per-stream rate will depend on their listenership’s geographical distribution.

Paid or Free Account

Finally, the type of account the listener holds also impacts the royalty rate. Soundcloud differentiates between paid and free accounts, resulting in different rates paid to artists. For instance, streams from listeners with a premium subscription generally result in a higher royalty payment than those with a free account.

In a recent analysis, the average royalty rate on Soundcloud was around $0.003275 per stream. However, it is essential to remember that this figure is an average and can fluctuate depending on the abovementioned factors. For a more accurate estimation of royalty earnings, artists should consider the specific circumstances of their fan base and streams.

Comparing Soundcloud to Other Streaming Platforms

When understanding how much Soundcloud pays per stream, it’s important to compare it with other popular streaming platforms. Knowing each service’s payouts allows musicians to make informed decisions about where to distribute their music.


Spotify, one of the largest streaming platforms, has payout rates between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream. These rates can fluctuate depending on the listener’s country and the account type (free or premium). While Soundcloud’s average payout rate is $0.003275 per stream, it’s evident that both platforms have similar rates.


Pandora’s payout rate is slightly lower compared to Soundcloud and Spotify. The pay per stream on this platform ranges from $0.0013 to $0.0024. However, Pandora’s rates can also be influenced by factors like the listener’s location and account type.

Amazon Music

Amazon Music’s payout rate is similar to Spotify and Soundcloud, with an average of $0.004 per stream. The exact rate is influenced by numerous factors, including the listener’s country and whether they have a prime or non-prime subscription.

Apple Music

With average rates of $0.0056-$0.0077 per stream, Apple Music offers higher payouts than Soundcloud, Spotify, or Amazon Music. Although there can be fluctuations depending on the listener’s location and account type, Apple Music generally provides better earnings for musicians.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music payouts vary significantly depending on numerous factors, such as advertising revenue, account types, and the listener’s location. On average, YouTube Music artists can expect to earn between $0.0005 and $0.003 per stream.


Deezer’s payout rates are close to Soundcloud’s, averaging $0.0034-$0.0055 per stream. As with other platforms, these rates can change depending on the listener’s location and account type (free or premium).


Tidal is known for providing higher royalties to artists, with payout rates ranging from $0.011 to $0.013 per stream. While the listener’s location can affect the rates slightly, Tidal offers more attractive earnings for musicians than other platforms.


Napster provides the highest payout rates in the industry, averaging around $0.019 per stream. This platform’s rates remain mostly consistent regardless of the listener’s location.

Google Play Music

Google Play Music’s payout rates range from $0.004 to $0.007 per stream, placing it among the platforms with better payouts. Factors like the listener’s country and account type may cause fluctuations in earnings for artists on this platform.

Estimating Earnings With Streaming Royalty Calculators

Calculator Tool Recommendations

Several streaming royalty calculator tools are available for Soundcloud artists to estimate their earnings based on plays. Some reliable options include:

  • DailyRapFacts: They offer a Soundcloud royalties calculator, which estimates earnings based on the average rate of $0.003275 per stream for 2020.
  • Studio Guru: This platform features another helpful Soundcloud royalty calculator that considers factors such as the number of streams and the artist’s subscription level.
  • Music Gateway: Primarily known for its Spotify royalty calculator, Music Gateway’s tool can also be helpful to get a sense of earnings as Soundcloud’s payout rates are similar to Spotify, roughly $0.0025 to $0.004 per stream.

Usage Tips

When using streaming royalty calculator tools, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Ensure the calculator is updated with current payout rates and relevant factors.
  • Have accurate and up-to-date data on the total number of streams and other related factors.
  • Do not rely solely on these estimations for major financial decisions, as royalty payouts may differ from the calculated estimates.


Here are some crucial factors to consider when evaluating the earnings from streaming platforms:

  • Payout for artists: Streaming royalty payments are made to artists and labels depending on the platform and their agreements. Artists are advised to understand these payment structures to calculate earnings accurately.
  • Geographical variations: Soundcloud’s payout for musicians can vary depending on the listener’s region, whether they are using a paid or free account.
  • Music royalties: Streaming royalties are just one aspect of music royalties. Other sources of music royalties include synchronization, mechanical, and public performance.

Remember, keeping track of your music’s performance on various platforms and using royalty calculator tools as a rough estimate of potential earnings is essential. These tools can help better understand the payout structure and maximize streaming revenue.

Understanding Payment Structures and Music Royalties

Labels and Streaming Services

In the music industry, labels are typically responsible for negotiating and handling the financial aspects for their artists. They work with streaming services like SoundCloud to establish payment structures and distribute music royalties. Streaming platforms pay royalties to labels, and then labels distribute a percentage to the artists, which may vary widely based on individual contracts. For example, SoundCloud reportedly offers artists a 55% net revenue share for their uploaded songs, with 45% remaining with the app, higher than some competitors like Spotify1.

Paid Subscription Revenue

One of the key components of the revenue paid to artists by streaming services is the income derived from paid subscriptions. Users who pay for streaming services contribute to the funds utilized to remunerate artists. When subscribers stream an artist’s music, a portion of those funds is allocated to the artist, following the platform’s specific payout rates. On SoundCloud, average payout rates are similar to those of Spotify, approximately $0.0025 to $0.004 per stream, depending on factors such as the country and the continent from which the listener is streaming.

Advertising Revenue

Another important source of income for artists on streaming platforms is advertising revenue. Free streaming service users are exposed to ads while streaming music, and advertisers pay the platform to display their promotional content. A portion of this advertising revenue is then shared with the artists whose music attracts those listeners. Since advertising revenue is contingent upon the number of user listens, popular artists earn more from ads. It is worth noting, however, that advertising revenue typically makes up a smaller portion of an artist’s earnings compared to paid subscription revenue3.

In summary, understanding the payment structures for music streaming platforms is crucial for artists navigating and negotiating their agreements with labels and streaming services. By accounting for both subscription and advertising revenue, they can work to maximize their earned royalties.

Maximizing Earnings on Soundcloud

Attracting and Engaging Fans

A crucial factor in maximizing earnings on Soundcloud is attracting and engaging fans. Artists can employ various strategies to promote their music and interact with their audience on the platform. Some proven tactics include:

  • Sharing tracks on social media: Artists should actively promote their Soundcloud tracks on other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to increase their exposure and reach new fans.
  • Collaborating with other artists: Working with fellow musicians in the Soundcloud community can lead to cross-promotion, helping both parties grow their fan bases and increase earnings.
  • Engaging with fans in the comments section: Responding to comments and messages from fans can help build a sense of loyalty and community, resulting in more streams and increased revenue.

Optimizing Streaming Revenue

Artists should understand how Soundcloud’s royalty payment system works to optimize their streaming revenue. Soundcloud pays artists an average rate of $0.003275 per stream, although this figure can vary depending on the listener’s country and whether they have a free or paid subscription.

To further optimize revenue, artists can consider the following approaches:

  • Upgrading to a premium account: Soundcloud offers premium subscription tiers for artists, providing additional revenue opportunities, including fan-powered royalties.
  • Monetizing tracks: Artists should ensure their tracks are eligible for monetization by adhering to Soundcloud’s guidelines, such as having the necessary rights and including proper metadata.
  • Analyzing listener data: Soundcloud provides artists with analytics tools that can yield valuable insights, such as popular streaming countries and listener demographics. Artists can use this information to target specific markets, schedule releases, or create tailored marketing campaigns.

By implementing these strategies, artists can effectively maximize their earnings on Soundcloud, attracting more fans and optimizing their streaming revenue.


SoundCloud pays artists depending on the country/continent where the plays are coming from and whether the user is premium or free. As of 2022, the average payout rate per stream is approximately $0.003275.

How do artists receive payments from SoundCloud?

Artists receive payments via a linked PayPal account connected to their SoundCloud account. The balance is updated at the end of each month, with payments automatically deposited once the earnings meet or exceed $5. It generally takes music platforms around 30-45 days to pay the artists so these payments can be delayed two months.

What factors affect the payout artists receive from SoundCloud?

The following factors mainly influence payout rates per stream on SoundCloud:

  • The country and continent from which the user listens to the music.
  • Whether the listener uses a free or premium membership to access the content.

When can artists expect their first payment from SoundCloud?

Artists can typically expect to receive their first payment within 45 days following the end of the reporting period, which often occurs at the end of the month. The payment will be issued if the monthly earnings meet or exceed $5. If the earnings are less than $5 in a given reporting period, SoundCloud will wait to issue the payment until the minimum threshold is met.

How does SoundCloud’s payout rate compare to other music streaming platforms?

SoundCloud’s average payout rate of approximately $0.003275 per stream is similar to that of Spotify, which is around $0.0025 to $0.004 per stream. However, it should be noted that these rates may vary depending on several factors, including the user’s location and membership status.

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