Does Tidal actually pay more than Spotify to artists for digital distribution?

Tidal is the new digital music platform on the scene, owned by a hand full of A list music artists, and their claim was that since it was artist owned, they were going to pay artist better than the other platforms. Due to the turn around time on receiving payments for music streams, I'm just now seeing the numbers on what the actual payout rate is.  First, let's see what's been posted about Tidal...

"Last week, Digital Music News published a real royalty statement from a really reliable source showing TIDAL’s per-stream royalty payouts, which averaged $0.0144 (or, 1.44 cents) per stream for an independent label. Now, TIDAL says that statement isn’t correct, and they are actually paying double that amount.  “This is not one of TIDAL’s royalty statements,” the company told Digital Music News in an official statement this morning. “For the same period (March 2015) as this purported ‘leaked’ statement, TIDAL paid an average royalty per stream of $0.024-0.028, or double the royalty shown in the statement.” TIDAL is definitely correct on one point: technically, this isn’t a statement mailed from them, because they don’t mail statements directly to smaller labels and artists.  Rather, the statement was issued by a digital distributor servicing the independent label in question, which is norm for the industry. In that same statement, Spotify’s per-stream royalty averaged $0.0048, or 0.48 cents per stream.  That fits industry numbers of approximately half-a-penny per stream, though Spotify itself has claimed a higher 0.7 cents per stream (which has never been verified as accurate)."

"Last week, Digital Music News published a real royalty statement from a really reliable source showing TIDAL’s per-stream royalty payouts, which averaged $0.0144 (or, 1.44 cents) per stream for an independent label.

Now, TIDAL says that statement isn’t correct, and they are actually paying double that amount.  “This is not one of TIDAL’s royalty statements,” the company told Digital Music News in an official statement this morning.

“For the same period (March 2015) as this purported ‘leaked’ statement, TIDAL paid an average royalty per stream of $0.024-0.028, or double the royalty shown in the statement.”

TIDAL is definitely correct on one point: technically, this isn’t a statement mailed from them, because they don’t mail statements directly to smaller labels and artists.  Rather, the statement was issued by a digital distributor servicing the independent label in question, which is norm for the industry.

In that same statement, Spotify’s per-stream royalty averaged $0.0048, or 0.48 cents per stream.  That fits industry numbers of approximately half-a-penny per stream, though Spotify itself has claimed a higher 0.7 cents per stream (which has never been verified as accurate)."

And here is a lovely infographic comparing all the music platforms and how many units a signed and unsigned artist would need to sell each month to make a minimum wage.

So... now let's look at the most recent reports I found through CD Baby. They are our digital distributor, and their deal is that they keep 9% of incoming royalties. So consider these numbers to be 91% of the actual payout rate.

Notice these are from last December but it's just now made its way to us. It looks like they are paying a consistent rate, which makes sense.  If I do the math to calculate the full payout rate, it comes in at $.007 or 7/10ths of a penny per play. If you compare that to previous posts I've made about Spotify and Pandora, this seems extremely generous. But let's just use the actual numbers on these statements, since we're looking at the relative payouts. So compare the numbers below to $.0065 per stream.

Let's look at the latest payouts from Spotify...

As you can see from Spotify, it seems like the payout rate is hardly ever the same amount twice.  Why is that?? I have no idea. You'd think the payout rate would just be the payout rate. Notice this is only for two different song titles, so it's not like the rate changes for different songs. "Midnight in Venice" is an original and "Tangerine" is a cover, and yet we don't always get a higher rate for our original. So... I have no idea how this works. But it seems like there are a couple of times that Spotify actually pays a higher rate than Tidal, but that is more the exception than the rule.

So in conclusion... the answer to the question "does Tidal actually pay more than Spotify to artists for digital distribution?" is a definite "yes, maybe sometimes."

There.