The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is set to release an open letter to artists later today. Most significantly, the letter says that Apple Music pays one cent per stream. That is roughly twice what Spotify pays, according to estimates.

Streaming services are trying to show that they are friendly to artists, especially as revenue from concerts and tours cratered during the pandemic. In the same vein, Apple recently invested in an independent music artist platform called UnitedMasters.

Artists with songs streaming in Apple Music will welcome the transparency, but many argue that the rates should be higher.

Music-rights holders have publicly protested about the current state of revenue sharing in music streaming, in the hope that new deals can be negotiated with the leading platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.

Although Apple Music pays more per stream, overall revenue from Spotify is higher as Spotify simply has more users. Apple Music last reported that it had crossed the 60 million user mark in June 2019. It has not released up-to-date subscriber numbers in the two years since. Spotify boasts more than 150 million paid subscribers, plus another 200 million using the ad-free tier.

In the open letter, Apple says it “believes in paying every creator the same rate, that a play has a value, and that creators should never have to pay for featuring”.

Of course, each per-stream cent of a song does not go straight into an artist’s pocket. That cent is divvied up between each of the different rights holders, such as labels, publishers and other distributors. Ultimately, only a fraction of that cent goes to the artist.

However, when the going price of a music streaming service is $9.99 per month, there isn’t that much wiggle room to increase the per-stream rate.

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