In October 2018, Soundcloud announced that it will open its direct monetization program for Indie artists.
However, the exact amount you can earn as an artist still remains a question.
Soundcloud Premier 101
The program, called SoundCloud Premier, was created in 2014 but has been limited to an invite-only beta until now. Signing up for it SoundCloud will give you access to the Premiere Program if you meet the criteria. If they accept you into the premiere program then you should be able to monetize your streams going forward.
There are, of course, certain preconditions for making money. In order to qualify for SoundCloud Premier, an artist must be an independent creator with a Pro or Pro Unlimited account. Furthermore, he or she must be 18 years old and have at least 5,000 plays in the past month from SoundCloud-monetized countries. Any songs monetized with SoundCloud Premier are non-exclusive, and the creator retains all rights.
So how much can we expect to earn per stream?
Signing up for a Premier membership comes at a cost, ranging from $8 to $16 per month for hosting. Luckily, tracks uploaded are available to be monetized within minutes. According to an article from The Verge, artists can get a 55% net revenue share for the songs they upload. So if your music makes $1000 with SoundCloud, it will keep 45%, and you’ll receive the rest, which is $550. This is a little more generous in comparison with Spotify’s 50% net revenue.
However, keep in mind that these are only monetized when played from these nine countries listed here: (These are limited to the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.) Furthermore, the actual numbers are more ambiguous than generous.
The actual numbers may vary. Why?
It is important to take into consideration that the Premier payment system is based on revenue generated from advertising and subscriptions. The amount you make is directly tied to how much money SoundCloud generates. According to Techcrunch, Soundcloud failed to respond to their inquiries about how much artists would earn per 1000 ad-supported or premium subscription listener streams.
However, several users have reported various numbers. In reality, in order to compete with other platforms like Spotify, Google, Amazon or Apple, Soundcloud has to provide more generous payouts to its artists. This could be a rough estimation of about $3 dollars per 1000 monetized streams according to several respondents on Reddit and Indie musicians.
In general, it is still in the same range as Spotify. An expected payout can range from $0.0025 to $0.004 per stream. So for every 1000 plays, you’d receive between $2.50–$4.00.
If you’re looking to make money off your music, we would definitely reconsider using Soundcloud alone. If you are a beginner, the best way is to make use of other services like Distrokid, Stem, Audiomack or CDBaby to get your music out to as many people as possible.
Because it’s limit to 9 countries, strictness in terms of monetization and low levels of income, Soundcloud is not meant to be a musician’s sole income source. This is only worth it if you have several thousands of streams every month. Otherwise, your income, (calculating the deduction of hosting) will be very minimal and not worth the effort. While you may earn $15 for, let’s say 5000 monthly streams, you have to expect the cost of hosting and the time you put into your music.