I’m an Indie Artist. And This Is Exactly What Pandora Is Paying Me In 2013…

If you thought statements from streaming services were ugly, check this out.  These are Pandora statements and payouts for indie cellist Zoe Keating, handled by SoundExchange.  Incredibly, they don’t even include the number of streams. The SoundExchange statements also include payouts from other streaming providers, including everything from 8tracks to Spotify’s radio service. Keating is one of the most informed (and successful) indie artists around.  But this is non-transparent guesswork, even for the educated artist.  “This is the data as came to me from SoundExchange, so I don’t know more about it than you,” Keating relayed.  “Like don’t know what exactly “SPOTIFY.COM – > CW-CRB > Undeclared (1000011227)” is or what “TRACKS UNDER ONE CENT” refers to.” And what about the stream counts?

“I also don’t know how to calculate the number of streams,” Keating flatly admitted.  “I guess you could infer it if you knew what admin % SE takes off the top and what rate each broadcaster paid.”

Since Keating owns her masters and is the performing artist, there are two somewhat similar statements (roughly split down the middle).  The first is for Zoe the recording owner (full-sized image here, or just click the image below)…

  The other is for Zoe the featured artist (full-sized image here, or just click the image below)…

25 Responses

  1. GGG

    A big chunk of this is the PROs, too.
    For a Voice of Reason, you’re awfully ill-informed about how many people fuck over artists in the daisy chain.

    • Guest

      GGG – Sorry, wrong. This is a SoundExchange statement. This does not include PRO royalties.

      • GGG

        Sorry, I guess they made a typo on their own website where they describe themselves as such:
        “SoundExchange is the nonprofit performance rights organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties to featured artists and copyright holders.”

        • This is simple

          Not only are these statements showing nothing different from any thing artists have seen over the past 30 years, but Zoe should be jumping for joy. SHE’S A CELLIST!!! Yeah, she has a fan base but these are not Rihanna’s statements, why would any one even discuss or print this? If a cellist can earn hundreds of dollars between a few of the biggest streaming services imagine what relevant popular mainstream acts see. Not to mention, what age in history did cellists earn more than this? She should be applauding streaming services because if they weren’t here she’d be getting no checks at all. How many radio stations were there for her before?

          • GGG

            Well, my point is more that PROs are notoriously secretive about how they calculate things, not necessarily that she’s being fucked over.

  2. Visitor

    If you could only find a way to channel all that whining into making good music……

  3. Casey

    There is abosolutely no evidence that Pandora cannibalizes music sales and a lot of evidence to the contrary. Even Apple, the largest music retailer in the world strongly believes internet radio increases sales.

    In an inverse world Pandora/Spotify are sure getting rich. One negative quarter at a time.

  4. Someone else

    If you think this is bad you should see some of the statements I get from labels. The last one was simply a total with not even a hint of what, where or how many were sold.

    As a casual reader of this blog I often wonder how many other readers are actually musicians because most commentators seem so ill-informed about the realities of being a professional musician these days yet still comment as though they know what they are talking about.

    • Yves Villeneuve

      You’ve got the balls to comment here anonymously. Have you got the balls to complain directly to your labels about the lack of details in the reports? If you’re a pro musician making tons of money you have the option to audit your labels.
      I don’t think the indie artists making comments here are alluding to know exactly what label musicians have negotiated in their contracts.
      A word of advice to anyone considering a partnership with a label: flattery rarely equates to financial sincerity unless it is negotiated in the contract.

    • Clara Bellino

      Thank you Someone else, ain’t that the truth! Lots of people with lots of opinions, who have no clue what it takes to be a professional musician.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        Respectfully, you may be a professional musician but have little insight on how to classify your song “This Is Happiness” into a genre. Definitely not Pop Jazz. More like Children’s Pop or cynically, Gay Pop.

        • hippydog

          is there ANY WAY we can have Yves removed or blocked from this site?
          Obviously, his entire goal is to attack anyone for any reason. Literally argue for arguements sake.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            I was offering constructive advice. She is obviously misguided and I offered to help without mincing any words. Her song is actually very good as a children’s song. She would be more profitable if she focused on the kids market with this song. If your feelings are hurt, seek counselling from a professional.

  5. Visitor

    I gather it is not the music services that don’t report plays but is the way SE collects and stores data.
    I forgot (Mommy-brain, sorry) that I asked this question via email in 2011 and got this reply from Laura Anderson at SoundExchange. Their statement formats were slightly different back then and are much improved now.
    From the email:
    3) On each line, what paying company played my music?
    The law doesn’t allow us to specify the licensee reporting plays. It’s relatively easy to determine for some categories (like SDARS, Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service, currently the only service meeting these terms is SIRIUS-XM Digital Radio), but others are a bit more complicated. Technically, services ‘opt in’ to each of the rate agreements, so their rate of payment is considered to be their private financial data. If you’re interested in the terms that each service can opt into, or how each sub-agreement pays, you can check out
    Many pay on a percentage-of-revenue basis, not per-play, but the royalties are still divided amongst those artists on a pro-rated basis determined by number of plays.
    4) Where is the total number of plays in the statement period listed?
    It is not listed. The total number of performances of each track is consolidated before the log is put into our royalty reporting system. We are already dealing with billions of lines of data, so where possible, lines are rolled up into one item before entering the reporting system.
    If you’d like specific counts, though, I can get those from our data guys, who roll up the information before it goes to Account Services.
    Just let me know which tracks and periods you’d like me to check.
    5) Can you tell me what “performance value” and “earning entity share” means? If a line says “Performance Value $43.87” how many plays is that?
    As I mentioned in answering question #4, we can’t say. There is some ability to work backwards For example, you can either ask how many plays you got on Pandora (which they can disclose but we can’t), or work backwards: Pandora has been public about the fact that they opted into the PurePlay rate agreement with SoundExchange, which pays at $0.00079 per spin. You and I talked about that on your blog after your last statement. More rates and terms are on our website:

    “Performance value” is a general term which may be a result of one of two equations:
    Per-track or “penny rates”:
    (Service provider per-track rate) X (# of plays of that track
    reported) = PV
    or in the case of percent of revenue or set fee agreements,
    (Service provider total quarter’s payment/% of revenue)/(total
    # of plays of all tracks), X (# of plays of that track reported) = PV
    “Earning entity share” refers to the percentage of royalties earned on each track which are payable to you. If you were in a band of four and signed to a label, this would be 11.25%, or one quarter of the artist’s share. If you were a solo artist but didn’t own your own masters, it would be 45%, the full artist’s share. If you were a solo artist who owned your own masters, it would be 95%, because you’d be able to claim both the artist’s share and the copyright holder’s share.

  6. mediawest music prod

    its worse than that. the massive stealing of music content, and the so called major music cos are still ripping off artists, even when they have a contract. they will postpone payments, and short them. the same with publishers. ascap, bmi, are useless, as their biz model is old and outdated. copyright laws are useless. the only independent people making money are niche artists, who can do their content on their own, and get out in their area play, sell swag, and cds. the music biz was bad before but now its neo slave wages. music isnt free.

    • GGG

      “the only independent people making money are niche artists, who can do their content on their own, and get out in their area play, sell swag, and cds.”
      Yea man, terrible that people have to, you know, do work to make money.
      I’m sure you’re some genius artist and everyone should feel lucky to hear your great art, but if you wanna make money making music, treat it as a job, because it is.
      Also, funny how you complain about the massive stealing of music and then say copyright laws are useless…I’m hoping you’re not over 15 years old…

    • Tune Hunter

      We are actually witnessing a “gang rape” of music and musicians!
      YouTube, Spotify, other streamers and torrent guys are the rapists in broad daylight on the public square.

      Shazam and other ID guys are the “master pimps,” druging the girls from the radio to this med arena.

      Also the labels, the degenerated parents of music, throw the kids in to the same “gang rape pot” with hope to get some advertising cash posted on the T-shirts of YouTube or Shazam!
      Last and most important, Pandora in proper, non Spotify, “business model” should be paid big money for playing tunes!

  7. GB

    Question: How much in sound recording performance royalties did Zoe collect from AM/FM radio, satellite radio or cable over the course of the same period? The point i’m making is why is Internet radio – Pandora, to be exact – the focus of this article. Peformance royalties collected from Internet radio should be viewed as a supplement to Zoe’s existing revenue streams. According to the two statements Zoe provided, she’s collecting approx $900 a quarter for 114 uses. How much does she collect from mechanical sales, publishing royalties and touring revenues? If the point is it’s impossible to make it a musician these days, we should be evaluating the entire ecosystem (including payments captured my intermediaries) and not one of its individual parts.

    • David

      Zoe already gave that info (for 2012, but I doubt it has changed suddenly in 2013) in a blog post last year. The key elements were:
      Music sales (CDs and paid downloads) 45.55%
      Live performance 26.38%
      Sync/Master licensing (e.g. film soundtracks) 23.9%
      ASCAP (i.e. songwriting royalties from radio, etc) 2.69%
      Sound Exchange (mainly Pandora) 0.89%
      Spotify 0.38%
      Google Adsense 0.21%
      She also pointed out that these are gross figures, and that the expenses ratio is highest on live performance, so the contribution of live to net income will be smaller than in gross.

    • GGG

      You must be new to DMN.
      Pandora/Spotify/Tunecore/iTunes/basically all tech is evil.
      If an artist can’t make $100K a year from a single rev stream, that avenue/company is shitty and should be killed because it’s clearly stopping millions and millions of undiscovered geniuses from making it.

  8. Zoe for the last time

    wow. i find it unexpected that everyone is focusing on the money when i would say the glaring thing about these soundexchange statements is not the royalties, it is the TOTAL LACK OF useful information in them. the piddling royalties are not the most important thing to me. i want to know the number of plays and exactly when they occurred, and i don’t want to find it out 2 years later. the whole system is digital so why are soundexchange reports only vaguely better than those from ascap?
    why do i publish my data? so that everyone, especially other artists, can be informed about what the various services pay. i publish this stuff because no one else does.
    if you were operating a business wouldn’t you want to understand the potential revenues sources?
    and how can anyone properly discuss royalties from anything without knowing what they are? everyone is operating in the dark
    for all the criticism leveled against pandora and my disappointment in their going public (where IMO all the issues stem from), i approve of them and their service much more than any other music service out there.
    if anyone is actually interested in what i have to say read more here:
    (p.s. the only other of kind of radio that plays my music is NPR, who occasionally uses it as bumper music on Morning Edition.)

    • hippydog

      QUOTE ZOE: “wow. i find it unexpected that everyone is focusing on the money when i would say the glaring thing about these soundexchange statements is not the royalties, it is the TOTAL LACK OF useful information in them. ”
      At DMN, many of the posters seem to be simply looking for blame..
      Hate spotify, hate pandora, etc etc they are helping destroy the music industry..
      where the actual problem is the music industry has NEVER been good at transparency, and really good at maximizing ripping the artist off.
      FIRST STEP to fix it is for artists to DEMAND transparency from all parts, (labels, pros, broadcasters, etc)
      Second Step is to force broad cast radio to start paying their fair share. (obviously it would be lower rates then sound exchange, but they still need to contribute), the old “radio sells CD’s” is becoming a weaker aurguement for many artists every year.

  9. Yo

    I just logged into my old Pandora account for the first time in years and was blown away by how much the ads have increased. I will say my old band got in on the ground floor with them and Tim was really cool to us back then, like “Send the CD dude we’ll put it up.”

  10. Adrian B

    There’s an old saying that goes “Never try to teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig”! Rather than wasting my time to teach shortsighted artists the gigantic difference between Pandora and Spotify I’ll simply offer this advice;
    I know Tim Westergren. He’s a good guy. If you think Pandora is bad for you simply send them a note and ask that your music be removed from their site. Then you won’t get “screwed” by the royalty payments. See, simple solution.