The monthly statement is for March, and the name of the royalty recipient is sensibly blacked out. The document displays subscriber numbers, total number of track plays in Beats Music for the month, and the amounts set aside for PRO (songwriters/publishers) and SoundExchange (artists/labels) royalty collection.
From these data points, it is possible to make an informal and unofficial reconstruction of the Beats Music audience level and royalty percentages in March.
Here are the service facts as represented in the leaked document:
- Total subscribers: 110,992
- Total song plays: 182,366,328
- March royalties (songwriters/publishers): $22,965
- March royalties (artists/labels): $249,069
Now for a few extrapolations:
- Number of plays per subscriber: 1,643
- Royalty per play (songwriters/publishers): $0.00012
- Royalty per play (artists/labels): $0.00136
- Monthly revenue: $1,109,920 — high estimate of $10/month per subscriber, disregarding unpaid trial periods and “Framily” discounts in the AT&T partnership; actual revenue is probably lower
- Percentage of revenue (songwriters/publishers): 2% — actual percentage probably higher, as revenue is probably lower
- Percentage of revenue (artists/labels): 22% — actual percentage probably higher, as revenue is probably lower
Music royalties for interactive services like Beats, Spotify, Rhapsody, and others are calculated according to complicated formulas. One of the most transparent disclosures of those calculations is on Spotify’s artist site. But that method is not necessarily the same for Beats Music.
The leaked royalty statement (perhaps not by accident) comes out just as the industry is discussing reports that Apple will acquire Beats Electronics, which includes Beats Music, for $3.2-billion.