The economics of Apple Music

I love media. I love content. I love consuming it, and somethings I love creating it. Music is unique and special to everyone, and it’s important that the creation of music remains sustainable for content creators.

The remainder of this article ignores the parties “in between” Apple’s payment and the artists themselves, I’m more concerned with how Apple offloads and distributed its revenue from Apple Music.

My understanding is that a small dollar amount per play is given to artists, and the rest of the funds are distributed according to a “pooled” number of plays on the service - e.g. If a hit single represented 0.05% of plays for the month on Apple Music, that artist would take home 0.05% of remaining revenue, which I guarantee isn’t a small sum.

How I propose it should work is on a user-by-user basis. What I mean by this is, each user pays $9.99 USD per month for the service. Apple take roughly 30% of that leaving $7 to be paid out. Let’s say $0.50 goes in paying artists for the streaming, the remaining $6.50 should be distributed amongst the artists that the individual listens to - and not pooled together and totalled at the end. For example, if a user only listens to songs by Good Charlotte for the entire month, all of that remaining $6.50 should go straight to Good Charlotte’s label.

This has the effect of redistribution, and will help to support lesser-known artists who have passionate fans. All while slightly reducing the money those at the top of the charts are making - looking at you, Adele and Bieber.

Supporting as many artists as possible should be the aim - we want fantastic content creators to exist and put their best work in for years to come. My proposed model redistributed funds from the top of the charts to the lesser-known artists and bands, increasing equality and giving them a fairer shot at surviving and making a living in this new world of streaming media. It’s proving a challenge, but change needs to happen in order to continue supporting content creators whose work we so dearly enjoy.