My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale!

Pandora less than t-shirt sale

As a songwriter Pandora paid me $16.89* for 1,159,000 play of “Low” last quarter.  Less than I make from a single T-shirt sale.  Okay that’s a slight  exaggeration.  That’s only the premium multi-color long sleeve shirts and that’s only at venues that don’t take commission.  But still.

Soon you will be hearing from Pandora how they need Congress to change the way royalties are calculated so that they can pay much much less to songwriters and performers. For you civilians webcasting rates are “compulsory” rates. They are set by the government (crazy, right?). Further since they are compulsory royalties, artists can not “opt out” of a service like Pandora even if they think Pandora doesn’t pay them enough. The majority of songwriters have their rates set by the government, too, in the form of the ASCAP and BMI rate courts–a single judge gets to decide the fate of songwriters (technically not a “compulsory” but may as well be).  This is already a government mandated subsidy from songwriters and artists to Silicon Valley.  Pandora wants to make it even worse.  (Yet another reason the government needs to get out of the business of setting webcasting rates and let the market sort it out.)

Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t Pandora get off the couch and get an actual business model instead of asking for a handout from congress and artists? For instance: Right now Pandora plays one minute of commercials an hour on their free service. Here’s an idea!  Play two minutes of commercials and double your revenue! (Sirius XM often plays 13 minutes and charges a subscription).

I urge all songwriters to post their royalty statements and show the world  just how terrible webcasting rates are for songwriters.

The revolution will not be webcast.

* I only own 40% of the song, the rest of the band owns the other 60% so actually amount paid to songwriters multiply by 2.5 or $42.25)

**  I am also paid a seperate royalty for being the performer of the song.   It’s higher but also what I would regard as unsustainable.   I’ll post that later this week.

For frame of reference  compare Sirius XM paid me $181.00

sirius royalties

Terrestrial (FM/AM) radio US paid me $1,522.00

Terrestrial Radio royalties Low

145 thoughts on “My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale!

  1. Why the coyness about noting that this is your latest BMI statement?

    You concede that this is 40% of the song, but isn’t it actually 20% as BMI makes separate payment to the music publisher, one of which “Biscuits and Gravy Music”, I dare say you benefit from as an owner.

    The only ray of light I see coming from BMI these days has been for “Live Performances”. How about listing that revenue?

    I agree that the sum reported for Pandora plays is pathetic as compared to terrestial radio. I think you’re doing exceptionally well to be earning that much for a 20 year old alternative hit. Not that you don’t deserve the money but the BMI payment system has been stacked against anything but the biggest hit songs.

    I have the feeling the comparison you’re promising your readers is your forthcoming SoundExchange statement for U.S. digital performances of sound recordings, e.g. Pandora, XM Sirius and Spotify.

    I would not be surprised if the Pandora line item for Low is 100 times as great as BMI’s, the payment methodology being a mirror image, the label receiving their 50% directly and the performers divvying up the rest.

    • This was a facebook post. do you think anyone knows what BMI is? no coyness. If i zoomed out to show the BMI logo you would you be able to read the line item?

      Yes performers and record labels get far more revenue from pandora than songwriters. but my additional point is that pandora is trying to slash that rate 85% as well. so I’m not sure what your point is?

      I’m specifically talking about songwriters here.

      Pandora is at war with songwriters. suing to slash royalties. How can the facts do anything but inform the discussion?

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-05/pandora-media-sues-ascap-seeking-lower-songwriter-fees.html

      Pandora will shortly reintroduce the so called “internet radio fairness act” which will likely reduce performers royalties 85%. Again it’s s

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/17/pandora_fairness/

      • David,

        O.K., I’m guilty of nit picking your “facts”.

        We are on the same side, really. I appreciate your railing against Tim Westergren but the overall problem for songwriters is their not seeing meaningful royalties from anywhere in the digital space. OK, one exception : Sirius/XM sat radio.

        It does not have to be this bleak. But along the way the main players sending out the paychecks to songwriters (or their publishers), viz. BMI, ASCAP and the Harry Fox Agency, have dropped the ball. Instead of royalty growth, we have continued royalty contraction in overall payments and stagnation in digital royalty growth.

        How on earth did the sound copyright owners succeed (don’t laugh) where the music publishers have failed so abysmally?

        Why are you seeing only pennies earned from youtube on your BMI statement yet licensed recordings earn thousands of dollars or more quarterly from their digital aggregators from the same source? I made reference to your upcoming SoundExchange statement. I have had plenty of issues with them but we are now seeing dramatic revenue growth from them and real paychecks.

        At this point, I really think we would all be better off if Congress strips BMI/ASCAP/Harry Fox of digital, introduce a unified performance/mechanical right for songwriters/publishers, mandates equitable compensation as they have done for sound copyrights. Welcome, SongExchange!

        Robbie

  2. Pingback: My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale! | The Trichordist | Cranky Old Crow

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  4. Good thing David is also the artist, Pandora paid him on the artist side, too. So he made enough for 2 T-shirts. I think this is a trend.

    • Whoa whoa whoa. That’s bull.

      As a musician you’ll hear this all of the time. “Play this show for free, it’ll be good exposure” “Give us a track to this compilation for free, it’ll be great exposure” etc etc…

      Exposure is fine and dandy, but it’s not the be all and end all. And he doesn’t necessarily need to “fall to his knees in gratitude” that a for profit web page played his song over a million times for almost nothing. It’s his choice whether he wants the exposure or not.

  5. I have no sympathy for this artist or others who complain about Pandora. How much money did you make off of terrestrial radio? That’s right, you made 16 bucks more off of pandora than you did for all your airplay on FM radio.

  6. Your song was played to 1,159,000 times on Pandora (individual plays). This paid him $16.89 or 1.457 cents/1,000 times, but each play is only listened to by one listener

    On Sirius it was played 179 times (to an unknown amount of listeners), paying you $181.04 or 101.14 cents/time. 69,416 times as much as Pandora. But to put it another way, if the average play on Sirius had more than 69,417 listeners, you were being stiffed by Sirius.

    On terrestrial radio it was played 18,797 times (to an unknown amount of listeners), paying him $1,373.78 or 7.31 cents/time. This is 5,016 times as much as Pandora, but only 7.2% of what Sirius pays you. But here the average play only has to have 5,017 listeners for terrestrial radio to be stiffing you.

    Now, since both Sirius XM and terrestrial radio are broadcasts, targeting multiple listeners at once, I’m not entirely certain that Pandora is cheating you out of anything – and it’s interesting that you’re not complaining about terrestrial radio only paying you a fraction of what Sirius pays you.

    • highly original. see verbatim comment by brian shaw joshua corsen. do you guys coordinate what you wear in the morning:)

      Just posting the facts here. Not even really interpreting except to let you know how little pandora pays so that when pandora re-introduces the bill to slash performers pay 85% we all have something to reference.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/17/pandora_fairness/

      Also pandora is suing songwriters group ASCAP already to try to lower rates.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-05/pandora-media-sues-ascap-seeking-lower-songwriter-fees.html

      My point is the rates are ridiculously low. Why are they trying to lower them even farther?
      And if pandora needs money they should ad another minute of ads. quit asking songwriters to subsidize bad business model.

      Finally pandora is highly interactive. If I type in cracker I immediately get a cracker song. Cracker has higher value in that transaction. On broadcast radio it is an entirely passive experience. Cracker has lower value in that transaction. Pandora should pay more per listener to cracker.

      The more interactive the service the more value the artist has in transaction. That’s why Spotify pays even more (although not nearly enough). If I go to Spotify and type in “Low Cracker” I immediately get the song. Spotify didn’t bring me any listeners. They already new about my band. They add very little value in that transaction. that’s why they pay any even higher royalty rate.

  7. His song was played to 1,159,000 times on Pandora (individual plays). This paid him $16.89 or 1.457 cents/1,000 times, but each play is only listened to by one listener
    On Sirius it was played 179 times (to an unknown amount of listeners), paying him $181.04 or 101.14 cents/time. 69,416 times as much as Pandora. But to put it another way, if the average play on Sirius had more than 69,417 listeners, he was being stiffed by Sirius.
    On terrestrial radio it was played 18,797 times (to an unknown amount of listeners), paying him $1,373.78 or 7.31 cents/time. This is 5,016 times as much as Pandora, but only 7.2% of what Sirius pays him. But here the average play only has to have 5,017 listeners for terrestrial radio to be stiffing him.
    Now, since both Sirius XM and terrestrial radio are broadcasts, targeting multiple listeners at once, I’m not entirely certain that Pandora is cheating him out of anything – and it’s interesting that he’s not complaining about terrestrial radio only paying him a fraction of what Sirius pays him.

    • highly original. see verbatim comment by Joshua Corsen and Martin Shou. do you guys coordinate what you wear in the morning:)

      Just posting the facts here. Not even really interpreting except to let you know how little pandora pays so that when pandora re-introduces the bill to slash performers pay 85% we all have something to reference.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/17/pandora_fairness/

      Also pandora is suing songwriters group ASCAP already to try to lower rates.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-05/pandora-media-sues-ascap-seeking-lower-songwriter-fees.html

      My point is the rates are ridiculously low. Why are they trying to lower them even farther?
      And if pandora needs money they should ad another minute of ads. quit asking songwriters to subsidize bad business model.

      Finally pandora is highly interactive. If I type in cracker I immediately get a cracker song. Cracker has higher value in that transaction. On broadcast radio it is an entirely passive experience. Cracker has lower value in that transaction. Pandora should pay more per listener to cracker. ( But it’s not actually clear they do. there are plenty of studies that suggest they don’t pay significantly more. part of this is because most terrestrial with a couple of exceptions have really quite few listeners for any given song. most figures you see for audiences is “cumulative”.)

      The more interactive the service the more value the artist has in transaction. That’s why Spotify pays even more (although not nearly enough). If I go to Spotify and type in “Low Cracker” I immediately get the song. Spotify didn’t bring me any listeners. They already new about my band. They add very little value in that transaction. that’s why they pay any even higher royalty rate.

  8. The song was played 1,159,000 times on Pandora (individual plays). This paid him $16.89 or 1.457 cents/1,000 times, but each play is only listened to by one listener.

    On Sirius it was played 179 times (to an unknown amount of listeners), paying him $181.04 or 101.14 cents/time. 69,416 times as much as Pandora. But to put it another way, if the average play on Sirius had more than 69,417 listeners, he was being stiffed by Sirius.

    On terrestrial radio it was played 18,797 times (to an unknown amount of listeners), paying him $1,373.78 or 7.31 cents/time. This is 5,016 times as much as Pandora, but only 7.2% of what Sirius pays him. But here the average play only has to have 5,017 listeners for terrestrial radio to be stiffing him.

    Now, since both Sirius XM and terrestrial radio are broadcasts, targeting multiple listeners at once, we can’t be entirely certain that Pandora is cheating him out of anything. It’s interesting that he’s not complaining about terrestrial radio only paying him a fraction of what Sirius pays him.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/Music/comments/1gyylv/my_song_got_played_on_pandora_1_million_times_and/capaahp

    • highly original. see verbatim comment by brian shaw and Martin Shou. do you guys coordinate what you wear in the morning:)

      Just posting the facts here. Not even really interpreting except to let you know how little pandora pays so that when pandora re-introduces the bill to slash performers pay 85% we all have something to reference.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/17/pandora_fairness/

      Also pandora is suing songwriters group ASCAP already to try to lower rates.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-05/pandora-media-sues-ascap-seeking-lower-songwriter-fees.html

      My point is the rates are ridiculously low. Why are they trying to lower them even farther?
      And if pandora needs money they should ad another minute of ads. quit asking songwriters to subsidize bad business model.

      Finally pandora is highly interactive. If I type in cracker I immediately get a cracker song. Cracker has higher value in that transaction. On broadcast radio it is an entirely passive experience. Cracker has lower value in that transaction. Pandora should pay more per listener to cracker.
      ( But it’s not actually clear they do. there are plenty of studies that suggest they don’t pay significantly more. part of this is because most terrestrial with a couple of exceptions have really quite few listeners for any given song. most figures you see for audiences is “cumulative”.)

      The more interactive the service the more value the artist has in transaction. That’s why Spotify pays even more (although not nearly enough). If I go to Spotify and type in “Low Cracker” I immediately get the song. Spotify didn’t bring me any listeners. They already new about my band. They add very little value in that transaction. that’s why they pay any even higher royalty rate.

      • Out of curiosity, regarding your Spotify comment “although not nearly enough,” how much is enough? How much should we (the consumer) ultimately be paying?

      • This is controversial. Spotify pays about .6 cents per spin in aggregate. But if you are using spotify premium or any of the paid versions, more than .6 cents of that is going to the artist. If everyone were using the paid service methinks that the rate paid per spin would be something that in aggregate would approach something sustainable. But no one knows for sure! And artists are subsidizing the experiment!

    • “On Sirius it was played 179 times (to an unknown amount of listeners).” The correct terminology is “number” of listeners. Since your post was using higher level math (arithmetic), I found it appropriate to elevate the grammar as well.

  9. Pingback: If Pandora plays your song one million times, you only get $16.89 | Death and Taxes

  10. Pingback: Cracker’s “Low” was played over a million times on Pandora, and the band was only paid $42.25

  11. Cracker is coming to The Granada Theater in Dallas soon, can’t wait to see you. Keep fighting the good fight. It’s amazing that the artists, the people who literally create everything that the industry profits from, get paid the least at the end of the day. Mind-boggling.

  12. Pingback: How Much Does A Songwriter Earn When Pandora Plays His Song 1.16 Million Times? Hint: It’s Not Much – Consumerist

  13. Well, maybe you should be happy that a song you wrote 20 years ago is getting a million plays anywhere. That’s got to help with concert ticket sales and t-shirt sales, right? These are listeners who are being served your music based on algorithms — how much do you really “deserve” for that exposure? Maybe Pandora could devise a way to pay artists more if users pick them as the basis for a stream, i.e. “Cracker radio” versus popping up randomly because a user likes a band that kinda sounds like yours. . . Like the difference between passive and active radio streaming rates.

  14. The reason Pandora doesn’t get off the couch and develop a better business model is that their business model is to bribe politicians to force everyone to give them money. This is the rent seeking behavior that results from the regressive taxation policies we have in the US and that are ruining our economy.

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  18. Hello All. We are currently heading towards a million views on this blog. And there are countless comments to be moderated. As always we welcome comments at the Trichordist. But we do not post all comments.

    By posting these royalty statements we intended to provoke a conversation about SONGWRITER royalties. Many of you have confused this with royalties paid to the performer. Often the Songwriter and Performer are not the same. Think Justin Bieber vs the many professional writers who actually write his songs. These are two separate things.

    As usual this is the policy for commenting at The Trichordist.

    No Anonymous comments. We must verify who you are (usually from your verified twitter account).
    No Abusive language.
    No Sock Puppets.
    No Paid Bloggers.
    Finally we moderate what we feel is appropriate.

    If you don’t like our policy? Start your own blog.

    David Lowery

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  22. Hmm… not sure that the cases demonstrated here are that equal.

    Pandora played your song 1,000,000 times – to individuals. You got $16.89, which works out to $0.001689 per person – or about 600 people per $.

    Siruis XM paid you $181.00 for 179 plays. That’s $1 per play, or close enough. I suspect Sirius XM has a lot more than 600 listeners.

    Terrestrial Radio (a chain of stations) paid you $1,373.78 dollars, for 18,797 plays. That’s nearly 14 plays per $. Again, I suspect that each play was heard by more than 43 people.

    The truth is that Pandora is overpaying you – at $1 per 600 listeners, that is the best deal you are getting by far. It may not be enough, but it’s a lot more than the radio stations are paying you.

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  28. Sorry that your pay is so crappy from Pandora.
    Ive bought some records so I hope that has helped over the years. I never managed to make it to a show though, Im a musician too and Im pretty much busy on the weekends.

    Good luck though, you guys are great.

    Time to start leaving Pandora up on the Cracker channel all day ;-)

    P.s. Pandora listeners, Lonesome Johnny Blues needs some more plays.

    • stay tuned here for when the lobbying for lower songwriter rates starts. we’ll let you know what you can do. personally i think we should get rid of compulsory licensing and rate court for webcasting. It’s like dogs and fences, it just makes the two sides snarl at each other. Make the parties negotiate on rates. Let the two sides discover how much they really need each other. Let the free market set rates. Terrestrial (AM/FM) radio does it that way. let artists opt out (you can’t opt of compulsory licensing it’s government mandated), if a songwriter doesn’t like pandoras low pay let them withdraw from the service. If an artist thinks the rate is fair? let them opt into the service.

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  31. I don’t see why this is a surprise. It’s a well documented fact that radio play pays extremely low royalties. The band is currently playing 500-1k cap rooms, which means they are pulling in roughly $5-10k a night before expenses, and that’s not including merch sales. Nor does it include residual royalties from previous records etc. Yeah, the royalties from sites like Pandora suck, but no one is forcing you to put your music on there. And besides that fact, less than 1% of “musicians” make extremely large amounts of money. You wanna make money, do it all yourself, so you stop paying everyone who works for you 15%. Personally, I’m just grateful that I get to wake up everyday and play my guitar, and it pays the bills. I don’t drive a Benz, but I also don’t sit in a cubicle. further more, I’ve found that when I’m not touring or on record cycle, I can supplement my income by consulting, producing records, and concerts or giving lessons. I’m beyond humbled that I get to do this for a living day in and day out. I don’t need a $1m/yr to be happy. Hopefully anyone looking to do this full time realizes that if you are looking to get rich you should first sell your soul, then go into banking.

    • ah eddie man. I don’t want to blast you for not doing your homework. but… you are much too smart to fall for that digital corporate bullshit. and you need to think twice about calling me a sell out.

      first no one get’s paid 15% everyone knows that me an my wife run the entire operation. label, management etc etc.
      and we’ve run the record label for a very long time. I started pitchatent records in 1985. Camper Van Beethoven was the first indie band out of the IE. do some research dude.

      Second looks like you book the vault in temecula? Uh dude the IE is our home turf. Who knows you might want us to play there some day?

      Too bad. We might have been able to have a rational conversation but you resorted to name calling.

      I wish you luck.

  32. Pingback: An Artist Got 16 Bucks for a Song That Pandora Streamed a Million Times « VidenOmkring

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  34. Meanwhile Pandora has not had a profitable year EVER. They pay ~50% to rights holders to play the music that they do, and have not made any money as a result. Its the nature of how Pandora works that was used to determine the value of a single play. Rather than complain about the size of the check you earned you should be using this as means to an end. You wrote something, good for you. You are not guaranteed a perpetual livelihood as a result.

  35. I registered just to let you know that I’m going to pirate everything you’ve ever done over and over and over and over… and then not listen to it. I never thought I’d see such a sense of entitlement from someone older than I am… You sound like Lars–oh he’s mentioned in another blog about “being right”. You should feel gracious that your 20-year-old song has gotten ANY plays at all, let alone had a positive impact on your bank account. Maybe next time you should “get off the couch” and hire a lawyer before signing a contract?

    Oh wait, you’re not going to get a “next time” that’s why you’re so butthurt…

    • You are a spectacular example of an idiot. So I’m letting your comment through. You didnt read the whole article.

      There is no contract. No lawyer can help. Compulsory licenses are government mandates. No performer has any right to opt out of pandora. Further the rates for songwriters are set by a rate court.

      Further further pandora is trying to get congress to pass a law to slash those already low rates.

      Get the facts before you comment. You won’t look like an idiot.

  36. What is pissing me off even more than the fact that Pandora didn’t pay the artist enough to buy a decent bottle of whiskey for one of the artists it is exploiting, is that half the people commenting on this post are staunchly supporting The Man over the artist. Furthermore, like most far right wing know nothings (far left is almost the same), I can tell that they didn’t even read the original post in its entirety, let alone comprehend the take home message and larger issue that Mr. Lowrey has presented. That arithmetist argument with all those dollars and listeners that numerous folks plagiarized from each other really pissed me off. It reminded me of Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. But hell, all that great blues from the South wasn’t composed on top shelf Laphroaig Single Malt, it was probably Old Crow or worse, so in actuality you could probably by two bottles of rotgut whiskey with that $16.89 and write a song called “Pandora Sucks” that they would have to pay royalties on.

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  66. I very much enjoyed your post. Thank you. As a manager of a couple college-owned stations that also stream, this subject interests me greatly. A couple of questions, if/when you have time to address them. First, when I started in radio, my old boss used to swear ASCAP/SESAC/BMI were all run by the mob. He personally knew some songwriters and it never seemed like they got the kind of compensation they should have based on the number of spins he knew their songs were getting. Is there any effort to get more of the cut from these groups?
    Also, you mentioned in a reply the unfairness of the amount paid to performers with a promise to blog on that. I understand that the CRB’s decision with regards to the rates webcasters pay to performers is significantly higher than the rate negotiated by Sirius/XM. In the radio industry there was a feeling that SoundExchange basically got what it wanted and webcasters were left to negotiate individual deals in order to try and make it a profitable venture. Do you think the CRB should really be involved or should it be left up to negotiation? And how about the amount that goes to record labels vs performers?
    Finally, you hinted in a reply that music played on radio had greater value to an artist than on a service like Spotify because the former exposes people to songs they may not be familiar with while with the latter the song is often accessed by someone familiar with it. This is opposite of an argument made by Thirty Tiger’s co-founder David Macias in a hypebot article a few months ago where he called for performance royalties to be payed by radio because the value of radio in exposing music is questionable and the value of webcasters to expose people to new music is on the rise. It also opposes the idea advanced by musicFirst and other groups in the push to enforce performance royalty rates on radio as to the value of radio, but it does make sense in the more traditional view of artists wanting to get their music on radio so people can find out about them. Do you feel a service should pay less or no royalties if they have a greater value in exposing people to new music/artists who could then reap the benefits of the exposure through increased CD/Concert/Merchandise sales?
    Thanks for taking the time.

    • This comment deserves a longer response. Yes I believe there is a promotional value in pure broadcast. I haven’t thought enough about it to put a number on it, and how much it should effect a hypothetical terrestrial perf royalty. I’d like to see a real economist like waldfogel or danaher tackle this issue.

      Spotify is largely consumption. You already know the name of song or artist. More value is due artist. Hence higher rate.

      Pandora is in the middle it’s a mix of consumption and broadcast hence their rate should be somewhere in the middle.

      But it definitely shouldn’t go lower.

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  69. As Chief Executive Officer at PANDORA MEDIA INC, Joseph Kennedy made $8,758,643 in total compensation. Of this total $400,000 was received as a salary, $231,000 was received as a bonus, $8,125,218 was received in stock options, $0 was awarded as stock and $2,425 came from other types of compensation. This information is according to proxy statements filed for the 2012 fiscal year.

  70. You do realize that by complaining about money, you are effectively killing the hand that feeds you? You would then be making $0 off of 0 plays.

    Playing more ads isn’t going to solve the problem either. Rather than sit there and deal with more advertisements, listeners are simply not going to use the service any longer, and that in turn kills the hand that feeds you as well. I pay $10/month to Spotify for the convenience factor. If it weren’t for that, I, along with millions of others, would go back to pirating music. While I might listen to Cracker once every few months via a music service such as Pandora or Spotify, I would never go out of my way to pay $1/song or $10/album; instead, I wouldn’t listen to you at all.

    This is everything that is wrong with the music industry. Without these services, people would be back to pirating your music, rather than using a service that pays you royalties. I agree, it’s not a perfect world for artists, but it’s better than the alternative. Come up with a better business model that pays Artists better, until then, I bid you well.

    • Sorry it took so long to respond but it took a while for me to stop laughing about the fact, I was being lectured by a pro-silicon valley commenter on finding a profitable business model. You got to admit that’s funny right? I mean web businesses and profitability? (BTW my bands have run a profit every year for nearly 30 years.)

      But other than that Chris you have inadvertently made one of the only two honest comments from the pro-webcasting craowd:

      You are correct. Songwriters are negotiating with a gun to their heads. The gun is piracy. We will never get a fair shake from webcasters as long as the government and courts refuse to protect our intellectual property and sit on their hands when it comes to piracy.

      Further no one is gonna listen to commercials on pandora as long as there are unlicensed non-royalty paying services doing exactly the same thing out there. Like Grooveshark. Both Pandora and Artists have the same enemy.

      It’s just Pandora is too stupid to see it.

      • Also I think you mean “biting the hand that feeds you” or “killing the goose that laid the golden egg”. But neither is true. Pandora is not feeding me nor laying golden eggs. nothing would happen to me if they went out of business.

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  73. Let’s pretend that piracy isn’t a real thing and that their solution to music’s problems is to go back to the bad old days of squeezing the oranges for all the juice they can.

    I’m sure songwriters will really make a lot more money by making Pandora a worse experience. It’s not like their users can’t just download their music for free all the time. Without Pandora they’ll have no where else to go but the horrible experience of terrestrial radio. Really you should be able to have 55 minutes of ads because where else are people going to get music it’s not like there’s a major piracy problem.

    • You are correct. Songwriters are negotiating with a gun to their heads. The gun is piracy. We will never get a fair shake from webcasters as long as the government and courts refuse to protect our intellectual property and sit on their hands when it comes to piracy.

      Further no one is gonna listen to commercials on pandora as long as there are unlicensed non-royalty paying services doing exactly the same thing out there. Like Grooveshark. Both Pandora and Artists have the same enemy.

      It’s just Pandora is too stupid to see it.

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  75. Fascinating thread, David. Self-disclosure up front: I’m a long-time fan of CVB and Cracker, and I work in the concert business. Nonetheless, I’m going to be completely objective here. What I’m finding disturbing is a recurring sentiment by some posters suggesting that the owner of intellectual property should be satisfied with even having (paraphrase) “any returns at all for 20 year old indie hit.” Where is this coming from? The owner of a piece of property, real or intellectual, has the legal right to manages his/her returns. Would we be having this discussion about a scientific patent? Or one of Donald Trump’s real estate investments? Or any other person who through their initiative and gumption chooses to build a business and manage their ROI? Does supply and demand not influence plenty of decisions about how Mr. Lowery already manages his complete porfolio of activities? I’m sure that like most business owners’ he has to manage his cost of goods sold (which also include his personal creative investment in developing a catalog songs among an array of other things). A valid question for him is, “Does the passage of time lessen the demand for my work and cause me to reevaluate the price?” Certainly. Similarly, Pandora is attempting to manage their cost of goods sold. There’s nothing illegal in that nor is it an unusual pressure in the marketplace. However, Pandora’s gambit is using fiat and lobbying power to work a deal that removes the active participation of small business owners in the rate setting of their products. Naturally, some are inclined to turn this into the dichotomized battle against “The Man.” Ok, do that if you wish, but really this is about citizens protecting their legal rights to manage their business. And Donald Trump doesn’t like rent controls, either.

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  85. I planned on coming on here and saying you’re lucky you get anything for your one hit still but I listened to it (for free on youtube) and it’s actually still a pretty good song.

    But I do find it surprisingly that artists are complaining about how much they get paid for online radio when they spent the last decade complaining about getting nothing due to piracy. You might like to thank Pandora for re-exposing listeners to your music. Consider it free advertising for your shows. You might have to work start playing for a living rather than relying on a 20yo song for a pay cheque.

    Failing that, consider looking for a real job :)

    • Walter Sobchak: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You’re like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know…

      We are talking here about songwriting royalties. Not Performers. Songwriters and performers are often two different things. some of the best songwriters weren’t actually performers. The majority of songs you hear on the radio are partially or totally written by songwriters that are not the performer. There is no “promotion” for the songwriters. for instance can you name any of the writers of Pink’s latest hits? seen them on tour? bought any of their t-shirts?

      Since we’re giving out snotty advice, how bout you carefully read what we’re talking about?

      • It looks to me like you are talking about both because you compared the $16 Pandora gave you for songwriting and the $1,500 radio gave you for performing. You make out like Pandora is evil for not paying you enough as a songwriter but it turns out they’re the only ones paying you for that.

        It seems to me you’re trying to stick it to the wrong man. Pandora isn’t the problem.

      • No. Wrong. Not sure where you are reading that. Terrestrial radio gave me about 1500 bucks for SONGWRITiNG.

        Here’s what is unfair terrestrial does not pay performers, while webcaster pay performers. Terrestrial should pay period.

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  92. Sick of reading these douchie comments siding with “the man” vs “the artist”. WTF is wrong with all you people? There is a far bigger picture than just one man’s complaint here and that is the point, while you bicker and try to figure out how much income he makes…

    The intellectual property owners, the talent, the artists, are already only getting a fraction of the compensation of the CEOs and execs who are using their property to populate their services. Its the same practise as “pay-to-play”venues that are prevalent all over the USA.

    You know how pay to play works if you’re in a band (due to the lack of sympathy to David’s blog I am not even sure anyone cares about music in here). The venue owners expect the band to bring in 50 paying guests, who will populate a *otherwise empty* (in my experience) club, doing the venue’s marketting work for them, bringing in door revenue for the venue. Then the band’s paying guests will pay for beers, tip their bartenders, etc. The band goes home with maybe a couple of dollars past the fifty tickets if they’re lucky but “they did it for the exposure, right?”.

    There is a direct correlation with services such as Pandora, which is all about “exposure” and in this case the “venue” owner is making $1.2million a month according to reports, while mass emailing musicians on Pandora (such as myself) a deceptive letter about “signing a petition to get behind internet radio”. In actual fact (not mentioned in the letter) this petition is actually being used as a key driver in his case to lower performance royalties that musicians are in favour of his proposals.

    I know who the villain is here, and for years artists have been uninformed and taken advantage of by the music business. Maybe you’re all just pissed that artists have suddenly gotten smart to it all?

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    • Nope. I was clearly talking about songwriter royalties. I was not talking about performance royalties. I even clearly noted in my article that I get additional performance royalties.

      The writer has conflated what the public misunderstanding of the subtly of my statement and then wrote as if I said what the public misunderstood. It’s quite a clever bit of propaganda.

      I’m not a libel and slander guy here but you did just call me a liar in a public forum. you want to clarify?

      • But don’t you think you should complain about intermediaries and not about Pandora? They say they’ve paid $1,370 for your song. If only the small part of it arrived to you it is clearly not their problem.

      • absolutely wrong. that article you are referring to mixes up Performer royalties with songwriter royalties. The performers and the songwriters are often two different entities.

      • the songwriters were paid a total of 42.23 cents. it varies from quarter to quarter but the songwriters collective bmi took approximately 12.5 fee % so at most the pandora paid to songwriters $47.

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  96. or, you can opt out of pandora, lose your exposure to a larger audience, who will be less likely to see you perform and buy your merch, which are, seriously, your high margins. this isn’t the ’80s anymore, dude. look at pandora’s statements, they’re barely breaking even. you can rag on music streaming distributors all you want, but they’re main value is to grow your audience and your exposure. songwriter credits don’t pay as well as touring, merch, and record sales. too bad you signed a bad deal and your label is gouging 95% of your rev, right? just like it was in the 90s, when the labels were merely a bank and your collateral was your intellectual property.

    • Hi peter.

      A lot of people like you do not seem to understand what specific royalties we are talking about. we are talking about webcaster songwriter royalties. These have nothing to do with record labels, distributors or anything you mention. These are not royalties that are paid to performers. This is simply the royalty paid to the songwriters.

      Webcaster songwriter royalties are essentially set by a rate court judge. Songwriters “Unions” like ASCAP and BMI may negotiate these rates with companies like pandora but ultimately if they can’t agree the rate cours sets the rate. These royalties are then paid semi-directly to songwriters through BMI ASCAP or SESAC. there is no record label or anything else involved in this transaction.

      Because of other strange quirks of the consent decree that the justice dept gave BMI and ASCAP it is virtually impossible to opt out of these deals. You essentially have to opt out of ALL digital services including iTunes. So you see we songwriters really have no choice.

      Finally this post concerns songwriters. Not performers. Songwriters don’t necessarily tour, sell t-shirts or an even really play and cary a tune. The only revenue stream they have is royalties. They have no fame to monetize. Can you name the all the writers on Pink’s “Give me a Reason”. Do you have their posters on your wall?

      • And by the way. If I could I would opt out of Pandora, Spotify and Youtube. The artists that opt out of spotify (you can opt out of spotify) make more money. That’s why over 200 labels have left spotify. It doesn’t work for niche and indie artists.

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