How Much do SoundCloud Rappers Make? - intro image

How Much do SoundCloud Rappers Make?

Soundcloud rapping has become so ubiquitous that it even has come to represent a whole genre of music. But with so many tiny artists on the platform, how much does the average SoundCloud rapper make from the platform?

SoundCloud pays artists (including rappers) using a user-centric payment system, meaning payment is highly variable. However, most musicians make around $0.0025-$0.004 per stream.

Popularity is a huge contributor to how much a SoundCloud rapper makes. Read on to learn more about the options SoundCloud rappers have to monetize their music, and about some other ways many have found to increase their art’s viability as a full-time job.

How Do Soundcloud Musicians Monetize Their Music?

Money is given to artists based on subscription fees paid by users to be divided amongst all artists. Free Soundcloud users also pay these bands indirectly by viewing ads around a musician’s song.

SoundCloud gives artists fan-based royalties. Every user’s premium subscription gets split up and paid to the artists they listen to. The more they listen, the more users their music is split up amongst.

Soundcloud only allows premium users to monetize their music. That is, if you don’t pay for a subscription to one of Soundcloud’s plans for artists, you will make nothing from SoundCloud. The platform offers three tiers of artist subscriptions: Next, Next Plus, and Next Pro.

The Three Tiers of Soundcloud Monetization

SoundCloud recently renamed all their different artist account tiers to reflect this change, switching Basic to Next, Repost to Next Plus, and Pro Unlimited to Next Pro. They also released the old Premier monetization system, making it a legacy offer.

  • Next is the free plan, with the only “pay” being fan insight and publicity.
  • Next Plus costs $2.50 monthly or more, allowing you to upload and monetize 3 hours’ worth of music monthly. Soundcloud distributes your music to several platforms on this plan, including Apple Music and Spotify. Next Plus costs $30 a year, and users get a share of 80% of all of the different monetization programs that Soundcloud runs.
  • Next Pro includes all of Next Plus’s benefits with unlimited uploads and features such as advanced profile management and custom listening reports. Now, just how much does a SoundCloud rapper make with any one of these plans? Next Pro costs $96 and likely provides the same 80% share (not specified on the website).

The extra cost of the Next Pro plan gets you unlimited uploads (compared to a measly 3 hours worth of uploads with next plus), along with various other benefits like more artist page customization, mastering credits, and partner offers.

Do These Plans Make You More Money?

It is difficult to say exactly how much this would increase one’s revenue from what they might earn between plans. But one thing is for certain: the more tracks you upload to different platforms, the more potential plays you are going to receive.

Both premium plans also include the ability to distribute music with SoundCloud to other platforms, including the following:

  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • TikTok

Something interesting to note is that SoundCloud gives your music a YouTube Content ID, meaning you can get paid every time your song is played on YouTube. This means that the money you make will be based on a sum of the royalties paid to you from every platform combined.

This could be quite substantial depending on how many views an artist gets on each platform, and what share of profits those platforms pay to artists. SoundCloud doesn’t publish whether they take a cut of this revenue or not.

How Does Soundcloud Compare To Other Platforms (When Getting Paid)?

Your typical Soundcloud artist makes anywhere from as little as $0.0025 to as much as $0.004 per stream. Other platforms do a much better job of paying their performers, but SoundCloud makes up this gap by distributing to these platforms for you.

Compared to Spotify, the payouts you get average 0.003 cents per stream. The amount you are paid changes depending on the location of the listener and the length of the listen

Apple Music pays an average of $0.007 per stream, which is over twice as good. More recently, Apple has stated that artists earn around $0.01 per play, which is amazing on paper.

Apple and Spotify still use a stream share/market share system in which the money from streaming subscriptions is divided among artists based on the number of plays their music has gotten. This primarily benefits megastars in the top ten list of most played artists or somewhere really high up on the food chain, leaving smaller musicians to continue struggling.

If you only distribute your music to Youtube, Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud, and get 1,000 plays on each of these platforms, you would supposedly make $100 from Apple Music, $0.69 from Youtube, $3.07 from Spotify, and $4.00 (based on the old SoundCloud numbers), which totals to $107.76.

Why Is SoundCloud so Weird With Earnings?

The money you get from SoundCloud is more variable based on how well your music performs. If you have thousands of dedicated listeners, chances are, your revenue could be much higher.

The caveat is that SoundCloud only allows monetization in a certain smattering of countries:  

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • United States.

This means that if your listeners live in Bulgaria, you would get absolutely nothing, even if the entire country fell in love with your songs. This can be frustrating for those whose music appeals to a more worldwide audience.

Top 5 Rap Artists on SoundCloud and How to Follow in Their Footsteps

1. Post Malone

SoundCloud Earnings: The exact amount of Post Malone’s SoundCloud earnings is not publicly available. However, with billions of streams across various platforms, the famous artist earns over $500 thousand per concert.

Lessons to Learn: Post Malone’s meteoric rise can be attributed to his unique blend of music styles and exceptional talent. He demonstrates the importance of authenticity and creative experimentation in finding your unique sound.

2. Lil Uzi Vert

Accomplishments: Was the number one followed artist on SoundCloud in 2016.

Lessons to Learn: Lil Uzi Vert started sharing his music on SoundCloud before he had a record deal. His story highlights the importance of leveraging platforms like SoundCloud to get your music heard by a wider audience.

3. Juice WRLD

Accomplishments: Before his unfortunate passing, Juice WRLD was said to be worth $6 million due to his work on SoundCloud. He’s likely one of the most well-known SoundCloud rappers.

Lessons to Learn: Juice WLRD was an early adopter of the SoundCloud rap movement. His single, “Lucid Dreams,” hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 due to his opportunistic focus.

4. XXXTentacion

Accomplishments: Like the others, XXXTentacion’s exact SoundCloud earnings aren’t public. However, his songs have amassed millions of plays, suggesting a substantial earning.

Lessons to Learn: XXXTentacion’s music resonated with a wide audience due to its raw emotion and unique style. He underscores the impact of emotional honesty and vulnerability in music.

5. Playboi Carti

SoundCloud Earnings: Playboi Carti’s earnings from SoundCloud are unknown, but with multiple tracks with millions of plays, his income is likely significant.

Lessons to Learn: Playboi Carti’s success was facilitated by collaborations with established artists, highlighting the importance of networking and collaboration in the music industry.

10 Ways To Broaden Your Revenue Streams Beyond SoundCloud

The key to successful monetization as a musician is diversification. Don’t rely solely on one income stream; instead, try to develop multiple revenue sources. This will not only increase your earning potential but also protect you from changes in the music industry landscape.

1. Live Performances

One of the most direct ways musicians earn money is through live performances. This could be playing gigs at local venues, touring regionally or nationally, or performing at corporate events and weddings.

Rap artists can make as much as $1,000 per night from touring and doing live shows, with no upper limit. This is where you can start spreading your merchandise.

2. Selling Merchandise

Physical merchandise like t-shirts, hats, vinyl records, CDs, posters, or other band-related items can generate significant income. Fans love supporting their favorite musicians and wearing their merch as a badge of honor.

Merchandising is much more lucrative as a monetization option than streaming revenue. The fact of the matter is that making a living off of streaming revenue alone is extremely difficult unless you happen to already be a superstar.

3. Online Music Sales

In addition to streaming platforms like SoundCloud, consider selling your music directly to fans through platforms like Bandcamp. While streaming is convenient, direct sales can provide a larger revenue cut.

Many artists sell copies of their music for lifetime purchase from links on their SoundCloud page. This can be a lot more substantial than streaming revenue as well, especially if an artist has a particularly dedicated following.

4. Music Licensing

Licensing your music in TV shows, movies, commercials, video games, and more can be a lucrative revenue source. You can work with music licensing companies to make this process easier.

5. Crowdfunding

Platforms like Kickstarter, Patreon, or GoFundMe allow fans to financially support their favorite artists. This could be for specific projects, like recording a new album, or ongoing support in exchange for perks like exclusive content.

People pay to support their favorite artists directly in exchange for custom or premium content. Patreon can make the difference between an artist making music full-time or having to work full-time.

6. Teaching Music

If you’re proficient in your instrument and have a knack for teaching, offering music lessons can be a great way to supplement your income. This could be in person or online via platforms like TakeLessons or Lessonface.

7. YouTube Revenue

If you can build a substantial following on YouTube, the platform’s ad revenue can be a significant income source. This could be from performing your music, offering instructional videos, gear reviews, or other music-related content.

8. Session Work

Many musicians supplement their income by performing as session musicians. This involves playing on other artists’ recordings, which can be a consistent source of income and a great way to network within the music industry.

9. Songwriting and Producing for Others

If you’re skilled in songwriting or production, you can write or produce tracks for other artists. This can be especially lucrative if the song becomes a hit, as you’ll earn royalties every time the song is played.

10. Brand Partnerships and Sponsorships

Once you’ve built a significant following, brands might be willing to partner with you. This could involve sponsored social media posts, endorsements, or even creating music for the brand.

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