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Ways to Monetize Hip-Hop Music: Platforms for Rap-Artists!

Ways to Monetize Hip-Hop Music: Platforms for Rap-Artists!

In 2018, according to Nielsen, hip-hop eclipsed rock and pop as the most popular musical style in the US. This is partially a result of the music industry becoming more democratic, which makes it simpler for independently produced musicians to build a fan following. According to Nick Holmsten of Spotify, "there are no gatekeepers": "When I was growing up, you had to be in a band and be able to play the guitar. Now, making the music requires a modicum of technological know-how, and finding it requires access to a smartphone. [1]

How do Hip-Hop musicians, however, actually generate money? The majority of musicians receive their income from record sales, streaming fees, live performances, YouTube advertisements, and paid brand collaborations. Synchronization rights, merchandise sales, guest appearances in other musicians' songs, and live performances are some additional typical income sources.


If all these options seem overwhelming at first, don’t worry: Just start by creating high quality music and putting it out there. As you build a larger following through your music, you can start looking into additional income streams like advertising and merchandize.  

But what platforms are available for getting your music out there, and what are their respective advantages and disadvantages?

In this article, we will walk you through the most common online streaming platforms for hip-hop artists…

Payment Structures and Rates At A Glance:

Platform Name

Payment Structure 


Pay per stream 


Market Share

up to $0.00437 per stream

Apple Music

Market Share

$0.01 per stream on average 

YouTube / YouTube Music

Pay Per Ad View / Ad Click / Content ID 

$0.10 to $0.30 per ad view/ad click

Pandora Music

Per Play Royalty Rate

$0,00133 per play


Per Play Royalty Rate

An average of $0.001-0.0109 per stream or $0.7 per song


Artists get to set their own prices and keep a percentage off the income generated with each sale

85% per music download and 90% per merch item sold



Fan-based Royalty System 

approximately $0.0025 - $4 per stream


Fan-based Royalty System /Direct Artist Payout

minimum of 0.012$ per stream



Market Share

Around $0.01682 per stream


The Most Common Streaming Platforms for Hip-Hop Artists: 

Spotify for hip-Hop Artists

Without Spotify, no list of streaming services would be complete: In the realm of music streaming, the platform still commands the highest market share. Spotify has 406 million members globally, so theoretically anyone can listen to your music if you upload them there. Its excellent compatibility with all types of devices and many social networking platforms is one of its main advantages. This means that the majority of listeners will be able to access your song's link no matter where you post it. The Spotify algorithm will help your music find new prospective listeners, and if you are fortunate enough to appear on a playlist like Rap Caviar, it can raise your visibility as an artist and increase the amount of streams you receive.

Of course, Spotify's immense size has drawbacks as well; with almost 8 million musicians on the platform, there is a ton of competition. Moreover, the network has recently been the subject of bad press because of its poor payout rates. Even though millions of people have listened to your songs on Spotify, you can be making very little money because the platform pays its artists based on market share rather than the amount of listens.

406 million active users each month (180 million premium subscribers and 226 million ad-supported subscribers)
There are 8 million artists on the platform.
Bad Bunny was the most streamed artist in 2021.
Up to 0.00437 dollars are paid each stream.
Benefits of Spotify:
broad audience
high degree of compatibility with many smartphones, PCs, and social networking platforms
The most popular genre on Spotify is hip-hop.
Being included in a playlist like "Rap Caviar" can help you get notoriety.
The drawbacks of Spotify:
a low rate of payout
As many artists contribute to the platform, there is fierce competition.
Your audience might not be able to hear your music without advertising depending on whether they have a subscription or not.
To upload music to Spotify, you must locate (and pay) a distributor (The platform has recently closed down the Beta-version of a program that allows artists to upload their music directly and without an intermediary)
Hip-hop artist-friendly Apple Music:
Apple Music comes in second with a market share of 15%, trailing Spotify, which has a market share of over 30%. Apple Music doesn't provide a free streaming option, in contrast to Spotify. Even if this lowers the amount of potential listeners, Apple Music is still able to give musicians a somewhat greater royalty, which now averages at 1 cent per stream. It has also recently launched the playlist "Rap Life" in order to take on Spotify's "Rap Caviar".

Statistics for Apple Music:
in excess of 72 million subscribers
More than 5 million artists are represented on the site.
Ed Sheeran is the most streamed artist.
Pay per stream: typically $0.01 [2]
Benefits of using Apple Music:
Using Dolby Atomos, it is possible to produce immersive, three-dimensional music.
Apple Music pays all labels the same headline rate of 52%.
You can get information about your listeners with "Apple Music for Musicians."
has just released the "Rap Life" playlist to support up-and-coming hip-hop musicians.
Pay-per-stream rate higher (and more open) than Spotify
Apple also gives you the choice to buy your songs and albums instead of streaming them.
Benefits of Apple Music:
Only Apple and Android devices can access Apple Music.
If you wish to share your music on Apple Music, you must register with (and have your music approved by) a distributor like Tunecore.
For hip-hop musicians, YouTube and Youtube Music
YouTube is by far the platform with the greatest reach, boasting 2 billion members and 5 billion daily video views. YouTube offers musicians a range of ways to monetize their music:

You can post your music videos to YouTube and give the site permission to insert pre-roll, in-stream, or bumper advertisements onto your video. You will receive an advertising payout based on the ad's nature and how frequently viewers view your video. While there are no restrictions on posting your music videos to YouTube, in order to start displaying advertisements on your videos, you must be a member of the YouTube Partner Program. You need to have amassed 1000 subscribers and a minimum of 4000 watch hours during the previous year to be eligible for this.
There is another choice for individuals who do not wish to make their followers watch advertisements: In addition, YouTube has introduced a service called YouTube Music where users can subscribe for a monthly fee and listen to audio-only songs. YouTube Music pays artists $0.008 per stream, which is more than its rival Spotify but far less than some of the other streaming services.
Another function that YouTube has developed is called Content ID, which enables you to find out if a video utilizing your music has been published. You then have the option of either removing the problematic video or taking a share of any advertising money it generates.
YouTube statistics and music on YouTube:
While YouTube has almost 2 billion users, YouTube Music has 50 million members.
37 million YouTube channels are available.
Blackpink is the most-subscribed YouTube artist.
YouTube music video with the most views: Despasito (Luis Fonsi feat.Daddy Yankee)
Pay per ad view: $0.10 to $0.30 (If you enable CONTENT ID, you also get about $0,003 per ad view for videos utilizing your music).
YouTube and YouTube Music's benefits include:
the option to select YouTube music or standard YouTube (or using both platforms)
Artists gain directly from the advertisements that are shown on their music videos.
YouTube allows you to freely submit your music and films.
YouTube's and YouTube Music's drawbacks:
On "normal" YouTube, you are compensated for the advertising you place on your videos rather than for each stream. This implies that even if a lot of people watch (or click on) the adverts on your video, you get nothing.
The per-stream payment from YouTube Music is only $0.008. Even though this is more expensive than Spotify, it is still far less than what some rivals charge.
Your videos (and music) face a lot of competition due to the massive amount of video content that is uploaded to YouTube every minute. As a result, even while YouTube seems fantastic in theory, it can be challenging to gain attention (and views) when you're first starting out.
Spotify for hip-hop artists:
By utilizing a "thumbs up" button, users of the personalized radio service Pandora can tell the algorithm what genre of music they prefer. This promotes lesser-known musicians to wider audiences while assisting fans in discovering new music.

Yet, Pandora is more than just a radio station; it offers a premium subscription option that enables users to listen to the songs of their choice. The main objective of Pandora's marketing platform, AMP, is to introduce people to music they would enjoy but are not yet familiar with. It also aids musicians in promoting their songs. The platform just created the radio station "Hip Hop Forever," which is a significant move toward promoting hip-hop.

Information about Pandora shows that there are approximately 200 million registered users, 70 million monthly listeners, and 6,3 million paying members.
100 000 artists are present on the platform.
Songs played the most in 2021: WAP by Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B
Streaming fee: $0.00133
Benefits of Pandora:
In the US, 8% of all radio listening time goes to Pandora, making it the most-listened-to radio station in the majority of the country.
The algorithm is designed to introduce listeners to musicians they may enjoy but are not yet familiar with
The drawbacks of Pandora:
There is only domestic access to Pandora music.
Being a curated music service, Pandora must first approve your songs before you can upload them to the website.
low stream revenue
Hip-hop Musicians on Amazon Music:
The debate over music streaming has now included the internet behemoth Amazon. Behind Spotify and Apple, it has more over 55 million members and has the third-largest market share for music streaming worldwide. Amazon offers three alternative ways to compensate its artists: You receive an average payout of roughly $0.001 per stream if Amazon Prime listeners stream your song. Also, you receive a payout of approximately $0.0109 for each stream on Amazon Music Unlimited. Last but not least, you can register to become an Amazon seller and sell your music there: a.. and..........................

Amazon Music statistics: There are more than 50 million subscribers to Amazon Music, compared to more than 200 million Amazon Prime members (who also have access to Amazon Music)
180 000 artists are featured on Amazon Music.
Taylor Swift is the top artist on Amazon Music.
With Amazon Prime, the cost per stream is $0.001.
On Amazon Music, the cost per stream is $0.0109
$0.7 for each song sold
Benefits of Amazon Music: The service just released the "Amazon Music for Artists" app, which aids with audience development.
Alexa and Amazon Music are connected. As a result, you may interact with your audience through their smart home.
By signing up as an Amazon seller, you can also choose to sell your music there.
Negative aspects of Amazon Music
To sell your music on Amazon or upload it to Amazon Music, you need a music distributor.
Hip-hop artist bandcamp:
With the Bandcamp platform, you can essentially set up your own online store. You can utilize it to sell your fans items, physical and digital music, and both. Yet, Bandcamp is more than just a store; it's a community devoted to empowering musicians and providing them with a channel for reaching out to their current audience. You may also expand your fan base with the use of features like explore, tag hubs, artist recommendations, fan collections, and music feeds. Bandcamp's payment system is a major plus: Bandcamp only costs you a 15% commission on downloads and a 10% commission on products, and you may set your own prices. It comes as no surprise that many independent artists who don't have a label or funding now frequent this location.

37 million people visit Bandcamp each month, according to statistics.
500,000 records will be sold in 2020.
David Kollar's "The Vision Man" is the best-selling CD.
Pay for each song downloaded: 85% of the total cost (you get to set your own prices)
Pay per unit of sold goods: 90% (you get to set your own prices)
Benefits of Bandcamp
A distributor of music is not necessary.
Bandcamp provides the most advantageous payment method by far.
More than 80% of your revenue is yours to keep, and you get to choose your own rates.
Instead of paying you quarterly, Bandcamp pays you promptly.
Bandcamp is known for its unheard-of and underground music.
Instead of charging for your music, you might distribute it for free and solicit donations.
Fans can pre-order a vinyl album using Bandcamp's vinyl pressing service. As a result, you can distribute vinyl copies of your music without having to make any upfront payments.
Bandcamp's drawbacks:
Their algorithm isn't as sophisticated as that of Amazon, Spotify, and other companies.
The platform is rather modest in size.
Hip-hop artist SoundCloud:
Without the need of a middleman, you can share your music on the SoundCloud website. You may start sharing your music right away without even signing up for a subscription. Although this is a big benefit for musicians looking to test the waters and begin growing a fan base, the low entrance barrier also makes it more difficult for you to create a strong following of listeners: There are only 2.5 listeners for every artist because there are 30 million content creators and only 76 million registered users. In other words, a sizable portion of SoundCloud content producers receive little to no listenership.

Despite this, SoundCloud is a website that deserves your attention: Recently, the business made headlines for establishing a "fan driven" system for royalties. A portion of the money from each subscriber goes directly to the artists they are actually listening to, as opposed to pouring all the money made from membership fees (and commercials) into a pot and dividing it up according to market share. For artists who have a modest but devoted fan base, this funding arrangement is perhaps highly advantageous.

SoundCloud stats show that:

There are 76 million registered users on Soundcloud, and 175 million people listen there every month.

- There are 30 million artists on SoundCloud.

- "Rapstar," by Polo G, was the most streamed song of 2021.

- YoungBoy is the top SoundCloud artist for 2021.

- Pay per stream: between $0.0025 to $4.

Benefits of SoundCloud include the fact that you don't need a label or distributor to upload your tracks to the service.
As a result of SoundCloud's introduction of a fan-powered royalties structure, each subscriber's subscription income is now shared directly between the artists that particular user listens to. If you have a tiny but devoted fan audience, this can greatly boost your income.
However, several musicians have the option to let SoundCloud distribute their music to other platforms (like Apple Music) without giving up ownership of their work.
You can start sharing your music without paying for a membership.
Benefits of SoundCloud:
Your music may never be heard due to the enormous number of composers and the comparatively small number of engaged listeners.
Join SoundCloud Pro for $4.99 per month if you want to start generating income from your music.
Hip-hop artist TIDAL:
Jay-Z established TIDAL, which Square, a fintech startup, eventually purchased. It's hardly shocking that it provides artists with a better deal than many of its competitors given that it was founded by a musician: TIDAL has lately implemented a fan-centered royalties scheme, wherein the money paid by each individual subscriber is distributed among the artists that particular person is actually listening to, despite the fact that its average royalty payment has always been around $0.012 per song. The freshly introduced Direct Artists Payment scheme is a second payment tool that is completely useless. The Direct Artist Payment system's basic premise is as follows: The most-listened-to artist by a certain user is identified by TIDAL's algorithm, and 10% of that user's monthly cost is sent to the artist directly. TIDAL's superior audio and video quality, which enables your fans to hear the track exactly in the quality you intended, is another important benefit. Last but not least, TIDAL has introduced TIDAL Rising, a program designed to support emerging musicians. All of this may sound positive, but TIDAL has been the subject of some debate because of the relatively hefty subscription cost. Also, there has been significant disagreement regarding TIDAL's assertions regarding the quantity and caliber of its subscribers. For money issues, some musicians, notably Kanye West, have also quit or sued TIDAL.

Statistics for TIDAL:
3 million people were customers as of 2016. (more recent numbers are unknown)
In my Room by Yellow Claw, Mustard, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tyga is the most played song.
Pay each stream: at least 0.012 dollars per stream
Benefits of TIDAL
The platform on our list that focuses the most on hip-hop
artist-made work intended for use by other artists
above-average artist royalties
Artists with lesser fan bases can still profit from their music thanks to the Direct Artist Payout program and the fan-centered payment structure.
On this platform, you can share your music and music videos.
superior audio and video quality
Because it provides a ton of exclusive content that other platforms don't, it is a favorite among hip-hop enthusiasts.
On TIDAL, you can also market concert tickets as well as special access to meet and greets, livestreams, and other materials.
TIDAL's drawbacks include:
The cost of the subscription is relatively hefty.
You need a distributor to upload songs to TIDAL.
The website Napster for Hip-Hop Musicians has generated a good deal of controversy:
While Napster has been accused of "almost ruining the music business," you might be shocked to find that the company has gone legit and pays one of the highest per-stream prices in the sector. Although having a relatively small market share for music streaming, this is a platform that merits consideration:

-Napster had more than 5 million users as of December 2020.

Drake is the most popular artist.

Pay per stream: $0.001682

Napster's benefits include some of the highest industry royalties.
sound quality is good
Negative aspects of Napster
To upload your music to Napster, you need a distributor.
The aforementioned examples show that each platform has advantages and drawbacks of its own. It is definitely worthwhile to share your music on a variety of platforms if you want to acquire exposure and improve the likelihood that people will learn about (and fall in love with) your music. Although the aforementioned sites are among the most well-liked among musicians, there are still many more to explore: A platform like Reverb Nation, Deezer, Yandex, Slacker Radio, KKBox, GooglePlay, or Pandora music may also be worth investigating. Tencent Music (China) and Gaana Music (India) may be of interest to you if you want to target the Asian market. Also, we urge you to share and promote your music on TikTok and Instagram. You can enhance your goods sales, advertising contracts, and music streams (and royalties) on other platforms if you gain popularity on social media.

The complexity of the majority of platforms' royalty payment mechanisms should also be kept in mind. The amount of money that shows up in your bank account at the end of the month may be substantially less than anticipated depending on the payment structure of a platform and who owns the rights to your music.

A fan-based royalty scheme, which enables you to make money with a smaller fan base, is often more likely to be advantageous to you. Additionally keep in mind that only Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and YouTube don't require you to have a label or distributor before you can start sharing your music.

Do you feel overpowered?
You may get your music disseminated on several (or all of these platforms) with the aid of music distributors like Amuse, Distrokid, CD Baby, LANDR, or Tunecore.