How much money does a platinum single make in 2019

I always wanted a platinum single on my wall! Also I was curious how much money a platinum single makes, that’s why I decided to research the topic, this is what I found:

A platinum single makes between $800 and $500.000. A Platinum single means that a certain number of the track were sold, also the amount  the artist makes depends on their contract with the music company.

 This was the short answer lets now explore the details.

New vs Major artists; How much they make per platinum single

Artists such as Lady Gaga or Beyonce may make up to $500.000 per platinum single whether new artists may make close to $1000 per single. This, of course, depends on their contract with the record label and the rates each streaming service pays.

It’s worth noting that most artists signed with a major label make 10 cents per copy of each song sold. That is on a $20 CD, $2 for the artist and the label, store, publisher take the remaining $18.
This is the main reason why artists such as Radiohead or Frank Zappa decided to release songs without the help of publishers or labels.

PRO TIP: Instead of focusing on platinum singles focus on platinum albums, its there where the real money is, a platinum album makes up to 10x more money compared to a single. Take as example Beyonce and her album Lemonade which made her $3.000.000 a day for about two weeks, a total of $42.000.000. That is $250.000 per song per day!

What is a platinum single?

A single or an album “will go platinum” once it has hit a certain number of sales. The exact number of album sales required to go platinum varies from country to country, depending on the population.

I have to note that until quite recently in the US you would receive the award of a platinum album certification at 1.000.000 copies sold; and for a platinum single certification, at 2.000.000 copies sold.


But this has changed mainly due to the rise of digital streaming services. At this point, the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) has set both album and single platinum awards to 1 million digital and physical sales combined.


How many sales do I need for platinum, multi-platinum & diamond certification?

The following information was conducted from the official site Of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

General Requirements, the RIAA recognizes the following Digital Single Award tiers:

  • Gold – 500,000 Units
  • Platinum – 1,000,000 Units
  • Multi-Platinum – 2,000,000 Units (increments of 1,000,000 thereafter)
  • Diamond – 10,000,000 Units (increments of 1,000,000 thereafter)


Units are defined as follows:

  • Each permanent digital download counts as 1 Unit for certification purposes.
  • 150 on-demand audio and/or video streams will count as 1 Unit for certification purposes.
  •  Requests for certification may be made by email to the RIAA. The following information must be made available:
  1. Record Company
  2. Label
  3. Artist
  4. Title
  5. Configuration (single)
  6. Level (Gold, Platinum and/or specified levels of Multi-Platinum)
  7. Selection or Catalog Number
  8. Release Date
  9. Genre

Note where it says: “150 on-demand audio and video streams will count as one unit for certification purposes”. 

That means that every hundred-fifty digital streams are the same as one physical single sold. This is extremely important since streaming has just recently been recognized and added as a factor when determining if an artist should get a gold, platinum, multi-platinum, or diamond status.

8 artist styles and how much income they make

The amount of money an artist makes depends on several factors, such as:

  • If the artist is signed to a label or unsigned (DIY)
  • The type of contract
  • If there is an advance to be paid back
  • If he is a solo artist or a member of a band
  • The type of artist (singer, musician, DJ, etc.)


Live gigs are a great source of income, and often one of the first artists seek to utilize. Of course, rates vary depending on your country of residence and the state you live in, furthermore, singers, musicians, DJ’s, and session musicians all receive different amount of payments.

As a general rule of thumb artists with a small following and few connections will get paid significantly less than a medium size artist.

Bellow follows a chart with the 8 artist styles showing their approximate income.

Click here to download

Here is the detailed breakdown of the 8 artists chart:

Street artist ($50-$100 a day)

When you read street artist don’t think immediately about the hobo under the bridge. Its true that most street musicians are average performers but there are also some hidden gems between them, one very famous pop star who used to perform on the street is Ed Sheeran.


Cover band ($1000-$2.500 per gig)

Being in a cover band can be quite profitable. One of the most critical elements is the name of the band; it can be something general or specific, example “The Drapers Band” vs “The Beatles Tribute Band”. What you must keep in mind that in this scenario you are more an entertainer than a musician, trust me I know, my father used to play in a cover band, and I often participated with him.


Session musician ($100-$2.500 a gig)

The life of the session musician can be varied. I know musicians who get hired for just a couple of live shows and others that are a more permanent band member but only when playing live. Take as an example the Doors, they didn’t have a bass player, but from time to time they used session musicians playing the bass for live situations. As a session musician, you need to understand sheet music well since in most occasions time is limited and very precious.

Developing (rising) artist ($280.000-$950.000)

In this situation, if you play your cards right, you may end up with some serious fame fans and wealth. It takes dedicated and smart work to become succesful, that is. if of course if you want to achieve superstar status

Songwriter ($100.000-$2.000.000)

I know you’re thinking, a songwriter earning that much? Well, there is a catch, if you want to make this kind of money you need to have at least one hit in the billboard hot 100. 

But even if you have a hit It won’t nesesarely guarantee you a big paycheck, you have to get smart and fully understand music-contracts, royalties, and streaming service payment rates. As a songwriter (or producer) you should allow yourself to be creative and figure out new ways of income plus how to network efficiently. 

A few examples of ways to generate an income are: live gigs, selling beats, writing film music, producing songs for artists, ghost production, jingles and releasing music under your name.


YouTube Star ($280.000-$980.000)

In comparison with the rest being a YouTube, star is something relatively new but then again considering the rapid evolution of technology; you may argue this already exists for a lifetime. There are many artists that are considered stars with big international success. One relatively recent example is Lil Pump the young and famous rapper who mainly got his fame through YouTube.


Old-timer ($14.000.000M-$50.000.000M)

The iconic artist. These artists have set the example for most young professionals. The old-timers have created a very strong foundation on which they continue to build on even today. These are the artist we all grew to love.

An example of old times casing in on their past success is The Beatles. Apple Corpsa multi-armed multimedia corporation which was founded by The Beatles to replace their earlier company Beatles Ltd, negotiated royalty rates of 45 percent on their CDs and vinyls plus a 50 percent for digital downloads; (this is out of the norm tbh). 

Since the music of The Beatles first went up on iTunes in 2010, the band’s catalog has 18 million downloads, earning in total $16.2 million, with $8.1 million going to Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr plus the heirs of John Lennon and George Harrison.

A few other iconic-Old-Timer examples are AC/DCBlack SabbathMadonnaAdamo, Metallica, Quincy Jones, and Paul McCartney. What these bands and artists have achieved (and many more of course) is absolutely magnificent, they should be an example for every modern artist.


SUPERSTAR ($14.000.000M-$70.000.000M)

There are different superstars in every decade as they are different dominating music genres present in the charts. The superstar status is quite desirable, prestige, wealth, glory, extravagance but also hard work, dedication, love for the arts, skills, talent, and much more are needed to achieve the superstar status. If you want to be a superstar, have a listen to the song Rockstar from Nickelback I’m sure you will enjoy it.


How to profit from Physical sales VS Streaming services

For physical sales & iTunes

Most artists on a label get between 15% and 20% of all sales. That means that you’ll get 15 cents of every CD single and iTunes single. If you sell a million singles at 15% that puts you at an impressive $150,000.


For streaming services

Spotify: This streaming service pays $0.00437 per play.

That means that with one million plays you will earn only $4,370(!) (that is if you own 100% of the song of course), keep in mind that this is just one streaming service out of the many.


How much royalties does the producer and the songwriter earn?

Typically the producer and the songwriter make between 10% and 20%. You can always negotiate a better deal.


Other things to consider

As I have mentioned before the number of payments will vary, and the figures presented above are merely a guideline, a rough estimate. When you calculate the amount of money, the artist should receive you have to remember that an advance is often given from the record label to the artist to cover general and studio costs. 

If the artist wants to receive an income from royalties, he must first pay back the advance. Only then he could benefit from his royalty share.



I hope I painted a clear picture of what to expect from a platinum single. If you have comments or suggestions, please contact us through our contact form. 

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