Pandora Founder: “We’re Really Having an Impact on the Everyday Working Band”

Sent to all Pandora users a few weeks ago…

pandoracares

80 Responses

  1. Avatar
    John

    If there was a picture of hitler on this it would be appropriate. Pandora pays shit.

      • Avatar
        Paul Resnikoff

        Ha, well it usually takes at least 50 comments before the Nazi references come out. But OK.

        • Avatar
          Remi Swierczek

          Let’s educate him how to convert the outfit to $10B music store.

          Next day we will call him the Jesus Christ of the music industry.
          His stock holding will quadruple so it should be really easy task.

          Tim, just call me direct at anytime for the best finical advice of your life!

          I AM SERIOUS!

          • Avatar
            Remi Swierczek

            $10B/yr is probably low number considering Pandora’s current stream load.
            As a store they would be legal on global basis so $20B would be possible.

  2. Avatar
    Anonymous

    still selling that longtail dream for people looking for hope, luckily for them there’s still a lot of kids and dreamers buying lies and scam smokery, therefore the ones who it truly scales for, those who own the business, keep selling the hope and dream….

    never the less, great platform for consumers and listeners, which is where I’ve chosen to be in the whole new music age, the only place I benefit from it all… 🙂

    • Avatar
      Remi Swierczek

      The best to date FARCE of the state of the ART!
      Thank you!

  3. Avatar
    FWIW

    Every author of every “Pandora pays shit” article and comment DOES realize that Pandora paid performers and labels over $300 million in 2014 and their competitor, U.S. FM Radio, paid exactly $0 to the same, right? I mean, please tell me you at least know that!

    Pandora pays songwriters and publishers a completely separate royalty from that which they pay performers and labels. THAT is the royalty being referenced when people like Pharrell point to millions of plays that only generated hundreds of dollars. Of course, authors more interested in generating outrage than reporting news conveniently forget to mention that paltry payment has as much to do with Pharrell’s writer splits on that particular song as it does with Pandora’s royalty rates.

    • Avatar
      Steven Cravis

      I agree, I’m always surprised the the Pharrell type articles only reference the small percentage songwriter/publisher royalties, but not the Soundexchange Artist and Rights Owner royalties.

  4. Avatar
    Willis

    Yes, Pandora really is having an effect. It keeps those artists working other jobs to support themselves while working to grow a career in music.

    • Avatar
      jw

      Most artists had to work another job before Pandora, & most artists would have to work another job if Pandora disappeared.

      Pandora is not the downfall of the recorded music industry, nor is it Pandora’s sole responsibility to pay the mortgage of every wannabe who picks up a guitar.

      How exactly do you think that Pandora is making it difficult for artists? In light of the data, that seems absolutely preposterous. No, Pandora isn’t a golden ticket. But they’re HARDLY impeding anyone’s success. If you really think that’s true, please elaborate.

      • Avatar
        Willis

        That’s a terrible response. It always has been that way, so it always will be? Pandora’s claim to help artists is not truthful. If it were, those jobs outside of music would diminish. I never said that the Pandora service was the downfall of anything, either. I’m just presenting reality again the statement made by the founder.

        • Avatar
          jw

          There’s a built in assumption to your argument that Pandora is responsible for making up for 1) the unbundling of music as a product, 2) media fragmentation & the explosion of new releases, 3) the general population’s new aversion to ownership, exacerbated by free services like YouTube, etc.

          You’re making the argument that, for Pandora to be helping artists at all, artists should be able to support themselves on this single revenue stream. Which isn’t a logical argument. For Pandora to be helping artists, all it has to do is provide a revenue stream without cannibalizing another in order to produce a net positive effect, which it does. If anything, Pandora cannibalizes radio, which doesn’t pay performance royalties, & that alone is a benefit to artists.

          There are tens of thousands of artists on Pandora. Sorry, not all of those artists are going to be able to support themselves solely on their music. It’s always going to be like that. Forever. And it SHOULD be like that. But an artist is more likely to be able to support themselves with Pandora as a revenue stream than without. That’s just common sense.

      • Avatar
        Versus

        “Most artists had to work another job before Pandora, & most artists would have to work another job if Pandora disappeared.”

        This is a false equivalence; it ignores the elephant in the room: It’s gotten much worse for artists i this past decade, so that more and more artists who could make a living are no longer able to do so. Meanwhile demand and listening to music are more ubiquitous than ever. So something is not right.

        • Avatar
          jw

          lol. That doesn’t mean it’s Pandora’s fault, nor is Pandora solely responsible for overcoming all of the obstacles artists faced with today.

          Do you want a list of things that have made it more difficult for artists to make money? I can give you a list that’s eight miles long. But Pandora won’t be on it.

          There’s not a shred of evidence that any artist is having a hard or harder time because of Pandora. No one in this entire thread has presented a single valid criticism from the artist perspective.

          • Avatar
            Anonymous

            There’s not a shred of evidence that any artist is having a hard or harder time because of Pandora. No one in this entire thread has presented a single valid criticism from the artist perspective.

            Sure they have jw, you just choose to either overlook them or conveniently ignore them…] therefore your saying as such otherwise is only evidence of your decision to gloss over them, thus hoping your little tribe of avid reading followers will simply take your word as law and not engage their brains to see through your ish…

            its clear you are not involved in certain areas of the business, which therefore makes your viewpoint narrow and confused, while obviously loaded with plenty of good info, its slanted and pointed and not all encompassing or non partisan or big picture related…

            pandora et all help some and do not help others, whether artists, writers, producers, composers, publishers and/or labels…

            this whole artist word constantly bantered around needs constant distinction and clarification… i saw somewhere you referred to the artist as just the fronting band, those arent artists, those are something out but artists is not one of the terms… i get its kind of like that, but we should really stop tossing artist around as if its an all encompassing term when talking about music related things…

          • Avatar
            jw

            The artist is the performer of the work. The songwriter is the composer of the work. Sometimes they are one in the same. Other times they aren’t.

            If you can’t catch on to the terminology, you’re going to have a difficult time discussing these topics.

          • Avatar
            jw

            Please give me a bulleted list of exactly how Pandora hurts artists.

  5. Avatar
    Timmy

    But,, I thought Timmy should always have a a guitar behind him? Because, you know, he’s like ‘in a band’.

  6. Avatar
    jw

    Paul… c’mon. It’s the SONGWRITERS that have a problem with Pandora, not the ARTISTS. Get your arguments straight, if you’re going to imply that Westergren is being disingenuous here. They’re two completely different royalties.

    If artists aren’t happy with the service’s payouts, they need to either write better songs, get better recordings, or promote themselves better, because Pandora ain’t the problem.

    Pandora pays out to, what… tens of thousands of artists per year? If they trimmed that down to a few hundred, something more akin to terrestrial radio (which pays nothing to artists), they would conceivably be paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to each artist ($300,000,000, supposing that’s accurate / 500 = $600,000). But that defeats the purpose. Pandora is about allowing artists that don’t have access to terrestrial radio play a way to get heard by the fans who want to hear them. It’s about variety, which is fundamentally at odds with the “mTV Cribs” aspirations of many artists.

    Of the tens of thousands of artists getting a performance royalty statement from Pandora, sure, a ton of them are in the long tail & aren’t making anything significant from Pandora. The vast majority, even. (Many if not most of those artists suck, or are doing something obscure or not commercially viable.) And maybe there’s those artists who are established, & who are getting or have gotten terrestrial radio support, & they’re really cashing in & keeping mum about it. But somewhere in between, there are artists who are getting their rent paid with a revenue stream that otherwise wouldn’t exist. That’s an important function for a lot of artists. If Pandora disappeared, there’s a class of artists who would be fucked. How many artists that includes is unknown, & Pandora isn’t likely to share that data. And those in the long tail are much more likely to speak out. But this class of artists certainly exists, & I think that’s the folks that Westergren is talking about. He’s not suggesting that Pandora is paying a “living wage” to tens of thousands of artists…. to read it that way is to purposefully misunderstand it.

    Pandora’s performance payouts are generous, & there’s no data I’ve seen that suggests that Pandora eats into album or song sales. So no one in this thread is criticizing Pandora in any way that should be taken seriously.

    • Avatar
      Paul Resnikoff

      Get your arguments straight, if you’re going to imply that Westergren is being disingenuous here.

      I’m sorry, I don’t actually remember arguing anything in this article.

      • Avatar
        jw

        If all you wanted to show was the statistics, you would’ve just posted the statistics. Posting the whole e-mail & the photo of Tim (who you’ve only ever villainized on DMN) suggests that there’s something disingenuous about it. The point of this article isn’t WHAT he said, but THAT he said it.

        You’ve said too much about Pandora to be coy about this.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      But somewhere in between, there are artists who are getting their rent paid with a revenue stream that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

      Please share all these stories, with royalty statements in full disclosure, with a good look at their whole career and path along with every single stream of revenue coming in, sponsors etc. etc. etc. etc.

      Thanks for your time.

    • Avatar
      dk

      terrestrial radio pays pretty well, actually. you must not be a musician. i had a (very) minor AAA (ie – public radio – the lowest paying of terrestrial radio) hit about 10 years ago and made upwards of 20k on my ASCAP statements from it that year, and still see at least 50 a year from VERY spotty occasional play.

      that same minor hit (which was a bigger than minor hit, commercially, in a couple of european countries) has brought me about 75 cents TOTAL for several hundred thousand plays worldwide.

      i don’t know where you get your stats from,but you’re dead wrong. this is not just anecdotal evidence. it’s just fact. streaming fucks writers out of the only decent income we used to have. and that douchebag tim has hired heavy lobbying guns to try to make the payout even LOWER.

      • Avatar
        jw

        You’re conflating songwriter royalties with performance royalties.

        I don’t think this is the thread to have the debate about Pandora’s songwriter payouts relative to radio. I’m talking specifically about performance royalties.

        • Avatar
          Anonymous

          right, which is easy to see you are pushing a very pointed agenda, for who and why, its for some to know and most to guess… must be nice

          • Avatar
            jw

            Here’s the reality of the situation. Technology is not going anywhere. There is not a future for the recorded music industry that doesn’t rely principally on technology. The recorded music industry has tried to control the technology (MusicNet, PressPlay, Sony Connect, etc), but failed miserably because that’s just not what they do. They have competing interests that prevent them from launching a successful consumer-facing experience. It will likely always be the case that the technology will be developed and delivered by third parties like Pandora, Apple, Spotify, etc. And the labels’ most successful strategy has been to negotiate partial ownership of these companies in exchange for licensing their catalogs. (The labels’ ownership of Spotify is worth ten figures at the current valuation. It remains to be seen whether, once the labels eventually cash out, the money will trickle down in the form of advances & support for artists or simply go to executive bonuses. Probably some combination of both.)

            So, since technology has to deal with music & music has to deal with technology, both sides should be making an effort to understand one another. And there are a lot of contentious issues to debate, including Pandora’s treatment of songwriters. In a nutshell, Pandora pays out generously to songwriters versus terrestrial radio, though they’re clearly on the wrong side of the pre-1978 debate. And the revenue split between artists/songwriters too heavily favors the artists as a result of the leverage exercised by the owners of the recordings, i.e. the major labels. As a percentage of revenue, Pandora pays out very well to rights holders, & probably can’t pay out any more than it does. Ultimately the value of a play is derived from the revenue created by ads… the rights holders (songwriters, artists, recording owners, etc) can’t be payed more than the revenue that the spin generates. But the split between songwriter & performance could be more fair… the thing standing in the way of that seems to be the record labels.

            So ultimately you have performers, who don’t get paid at all for u.s. terrestrial spins, getting paid very generously for internet radio spins at the expense of songwriters (as a function of the record labels negotiating terms on their behalf) on a revenue stream that previously didn’t exist & doesn’t cannibalize other revenue streams. It’s win/win/win for artists. And it won’t always be this good if the songwriters have anything to say about it.

            And yet people here are complaining!! Acting like Westergren is full of shit for saying Pandora is helping out artists. What??

            To me, this is a critical piece of the debate. If people can’t take a step back & look at the facts & appreciate the situation for what it is, then the music industry has very little if any hope of a recognizable recovery. I’m not saying there aren’t valid arguments to be made from the songwriter perspective, but the artist perspective is very cut & dry.

            As a consumer, I don’t care for Pandora. I don’t use it, & I had to download it just to make sure I knew how things worked to make specific points in this thread. And I have no incentive to defend Pandora. But I am very concerned about the anti-technology bias & people’s willful ignorance when it comes to how things work. So often people use tech companies as a scapegoat for their creative failures (see Anonymous), or they willfully refuse to understand the difference in value between broadcast plays (which reach potentially thousands & thousands of ears) & direct plays (which generally reach a single pair of ears). Or they’re just on some crazy witch hunt for tech folk, even when the facts clearly point to this being a huge win for artists.

            So if my “agenda” is “pointed,” it’s defined by Tim Westergren’s specific statements in the article we’re commenting on, & it’s done in an effort to say, “If you can’t admit Pandora’s value in this specific scenario, abstracted from the whole & apart from any other problems you might have with the service, if you can’t acknowledge Pandora’s benefit to artists, you’ll never acknowledge any benefit of technology because you’re not making an effort to understand.”

    • Avatar
      Versus

      Right. A rare time that word is used correctly.

      Pandora is certainly an impactful service.

  7. Avatar
    FarePlay

    Revenue from streaming will never make up for the loss of recorded music sales for the vast majority of artists. Even if they trippled the payouts. The real,problem lies with the interactive music streaming services like YouTube and Spotify.

    Pandora is at least a discovery platform, It is the dishonesty and bad faith dealings that continue to place Pandors in a negative light.

    • Avatar
      jw

      What you’re dancing around is the fact that it’s a radio service that pays out very generous performance royalties to artists.

      There are legitimate grievances on the songwriter side (though plenty more illegitimate grievances, & a lot of the legitimate ones ultimately land in the lap of the record labels), but that has nothing to do with what’s in this letter. Pandora has nothing to do with lost recorded music sales, nor are they responsible for making up those losses.

      • Avatar
        Jeff Robinson

        Yes but Soundexchange NEVER pays, so who cares about Performance Royalties? As it stands, BMI and ASCAP appear to only receive accounting from Spotify and Rhapsody with all other services not reporting, so the is the dream simply getting paid what you’re owed?

        • Avatar
          jw

          Fair point, but is it that the services aren’t reporting or are there issues with BMI & ASCAP? It’s hard to nail down who’s at fault when the system is so convoluted. This far down the road, you’d think the burden for collecting reports would transfer to the PROs, right? Then again, that $300,000,000 got paid to somebody, right?

          • Avatar
            Anonymous

            doesnt anyone else find that a bit peculiar??

            we have had information leaks from high secure military giving the public transparency into “top secret” information, yet everyone is still bantering around guesses as to the actual payouts and who is really getting the money??? …

            thats preposterous…

            does no one elses radar antennae just stand straight up from that???

            it’s a joke, its a grease job, its a money siphoning surveillance screw job everywhere these days, where a few people cash in, and every thing public they say is pure garbage marketing pr spinning to keep the game going a bit longer…

            im all for a bit of power redistribution, but so far im not very comfortable or confident any of these new tech information power players, once they taste that absolute power, will be any better with it, and possibly, much worse and much more selfish, which is never good for anyone in a high position of power…

            i just want all those guys greasing as such to just be who they are, to play that role… im so sick of the NDA’s and pr spins and public imagery, when they shut the lights off and go be someone else, its stupid, i just want these people to be who they are, for everyone to see, cause no one cares or will do anything about any of it anyways….

            fuck it, sick of it…

          • Avatar
            jw

            Your exasperation doesn’t add anything to the conversation. By all means, if you have some sort of idea or an interesting perspective or a poignant question, feel free to share.

            But no one cares what you’re sick of. No one wants to hear your conspiratorial ranting. If you’re just looking to vent, get a therapist or a livejournal.

          • Avatar
            Anonymous

            Your exasperation doesn’t add anything to the conversation. By all means, if you have some sort of idea or an interesting perspective or a poignant question, feel free to share.

            But no one cares what you’re sick of. No one wants to hear your conspiratorial ranting. If you’re just looking to vent, get a therapist or a livejournal.

            Of, you are suddenly the principal round these parts jw??

            You seem very hot to trot on this topic, bantering your big ego around like you matter at all, trying to shove your opinion down others throats as if its just that spectacular you are baffled how everyone else just doesnt immediately assume the same position…

            I have yet to see you ever add anything constructively to any conversation around here, instead you play a very sharp, tricky and sneaky position, pushing an agenda for a benefit you derive, for someone or something, and thus often leave the meat of the matters off the plate to help bolster peoples and companies pr and image, which is so suspicious its not even funny…

            Your lack of ability to properly take the time to digest and understand what i am saying does not mean it adds nothing…

            The reality is you just dont like me, no matter what i say, when i say it or how i say it, thats the reality here, so you can continue traipsing around like you are so high and mighty, trying to speak as if everyone is raising a picket sign behind their great esteemed leader, or you can bugger off and bother someone else, i cant stand the pawing and tugging at my pant leg, i wont rub your belly or toss you a milkbone there ol jw!!!

            Stop defaming me with libelous acts of nonsense, just kindly ignore me… You have your thing, i have mine, suck it up, deal with it, reapir your damaged ego and pride, and move out the way already…

            I do what i do, ok?? Whether you think its this or that is meaningless to me, you are nothing, a fly in my ointment, you just get in the way of me working, and i should be able to charge you as such for just coming around whining like some baby needing to be fed, so b b b b b b beat it JW!!!!!!

        • Avatar
          Mike C.

          “SoundExchange never pays”

          “As it stands, BMI and ASCAP appear to only receive accounting from Spotify and Rhapsody with all other services not reporting”

          Jeff , are these statements something you know to be true, or are you venting? Im not attacking you, but would really like to know. If you care to share. Thanks.

          • Avatar
            Mike C.

            Sorry, i messed up with the italics above..the last sentence was meant as a question and not a quote…thx..mc

      • Avatar
        Versus

        Why do you say Pandora has nothing to do with lost record sales?
        Surely the presence of various streaming services, as an alliterative to buying music, cuts into record sales?

        • Avatar
          jw

          Pandora isn’t on demand streaming. That’s why it pays out differently than on demand streaming.

          I don’t know anyone who says, “As an alternative to buying the Taylor Swift record & listening to it straight through, I’m going to play the Taylor Swift Pandora station & hear one Taylor Swift song & then maybe a Shania Twain song & then maybe a Katy Perry song & then maybe a Demi Lovato song then maybe another Taylor Swift song & over the course of an hour or two maybe I’ve heard 3 or 4 Taylor Swift songs & then I’ll be satisfied.”

          That person, clearly, was not going to buy the record to start with. Lumping Pandora in with all on demand streaming services is nonsensical. The burden of proof is on you to present evidence that streaming radio is eating into sales. Furthermore, if you type in a song like Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, it’s not going to actually play Shake It Off… it’s going to play a song LIKE Shake It Off. Which is why it’s not on demand.

          There’s a reason Taylor Swift is still on Pandora. And it’s either that she doesn’t want to be removed from the Pandora database because it’s a net positive revenue stream, or she’s simply not legally able to remove her music from the database. If a strong case could be made that Pandora deters sales, Taylor would make it, & Pandora would not be granted the compulsory license because they would essentially be holding the content hostage. But there’s no argument to be made.

          (These arguments apply to performance royalties, not necessarily songwriter royalties.)

          • Avatar
            Anonymous

            There’s a reason Taylor Swift is still on Pandora. And it’s either that she doesn’t want to be removed from the Pandora database because it’s a net positive revenue stream, or she’s simply not legally able to remove her music from the database. If a strong case could be made that Pandora deters sales, Taylor would make it, & Pandora would not be granted the compulsory license because they would essentially be holding the content hostage. But there’s no argument to be made.

            There is an argument to be made, but it is with the legislation and that takes time and costs a lot of money and is a tough battle, perhaps she and her team feel its not worth the pr backlash to be attacking pandora directly right now, who knows??? …

            I’m sure a strong case can be made that pandora does as such to many people, as it helps many people, but more then anything, its the compulsory license, its a dead outdated thing and needs to be fixed, if she or anyone doesnt want their music somewhere, they should have every right to remove it, and expediently, and anyone not complying as such should be liable for a fine…

            Those loop holes those guys are using to get rich, will eventually be closed, and not soon enough for most OWNERS OF PROPERTY… again, it’s a ruddy gypsy squatters license as far as im concerned…

            I mean, real estate property would never be subject to anything similar to that… I understand the necessity of the compulsory license and why it was created, but it is being used very shadily and i would suggest unethically, through convenient loop holes, by companies and people filling their pockets off of others property, and subsequently using a sneaky pr campaign to try and thwart the opposition to the realities of it…

          • Avatar
            jw

            If there’s no compulsory license, the small, independent artists who don’t have negotiating leverage are going to get lower payouts. Removing compulsory licenses would allow for larger artists like Swift to demand larger payouts, & Pandora isn’t going to start payout out more than 70% of their revenue, instead they’re just going to drop the rates for those without negotiating leverage to compensate.

            So everyone’s rights have to be considered. There’s no actual harm being done to Taylor Swift that would justify changing the legislation.

  8. Avatar
    Steven Cravis

    Tim @Pandora thank you. I’m earning double my San Francisco rent thanks to Pandora and Soundexchange. Pandora’s artist support has been awesome. Note to Pandora AMP development team, please add data for Australia and New Zealand spins.
    Best Regards,
    Steven Cravis

    • Avatar
      Music Business Graduate Student

      Steven Cravis, that is awesome! How has AMP impacted your career thus far?

      • Avatar
        Steven Cravis

        The AMP track data has made me aware of what kinds of music styles are of most interest (I create many styles, and different style albums of mine are rotated throughout Pandora stations) , which is influencing style choice in production of my next album(s). The geographic data is helping me choose locations for my own ad campaigns. The spins change % compared to last (7, 30 or 90) days is helping me dynamically promote specific songs or stations at Pandora to my fans at any given time. Overview data has given me a much better understanding of how much my music is listened to (within the United States). The scope was greater than I realized before AMP became available.

  9. Avatar
    Music Business Graduate Student

    To all the trolls and those who actually know the history of the music industry – when has radio been anything other than promotion?

    During the early days of the music industry, labels used to pay tons of money to have music placed on radio. This is called Payola, and it is now illegal. Pandora allows anyone the opportunity to play on their service. To this day, terrestrial radio does not pay artists performance royalties. Pandora does.

    Terrestrial radio has always been about marketing and the promotional value gained through having your music broadcasted to thousands of listeners. Why is internet radio different?

    Yes, songwriters make very little on Pandora than compared to artists; however, this isn’t new. Songwriters and artists have never been paid equitable royalty splits. Most importantly, for the struggling artists out there, wouldn’t you also be struggling if Pandora didn’t exist?

    With that said, there needs to be less blame put towards Pandora because you are sleeping in a dumpster, and more discussion on how artists, songwriters, and tech companies can work to together to thrive in the new music landscape.

    • Avatar
      Versus

      ” To this day, terrestrial radio does not pay artists performance royalties.”

      FALSE. Only US radio does not pay performance royalties.

    • Avatar
      Versus

      “Most importantly, for the struggling artists out there, wouldn’t you also be struggling if Pandora didn’t exist?”

      Maybe they would be struggling a little less.

      If all the streaming services were either gone or paid better, then they would be struggling a lot less.

      • Avatar
        Anonymous

        that is making an assumption that people would revert to paid downloads, when they can torrent or VPN or use a script or a program, or even just play it and record it to their DAW or even their smartphone…

        streaming in the big picture could possibly be the only thing changing peoples perception to the value of music, whereas it was widespread free, people are now at least putting some value on it, even if thats just free streaming for some ad revenue, so i mean, thats good, not so good for anyone caught up in it in the meantime…

        for someone like myself, we are truly in the lost generation, for so many reasons… the baby boomers sort of ruined the economy for us and take up most of the decent positions, leaving us to work hard to fix the problems they created for significantly less reward, with soaring high housing and rising costs of living, the pay and opportunities are not there like they were for them… Then we have them again, and their elders to thank for basically just ruining the planet and the environment possibly beyond any repair…

        then we have things like this in many industries, where the digital think gutted a ton of industries, to likely slowly be repaired maybe by the time we are sitting in rocking chairs unable to move or do anything thanks to old age, if any of us will even be able to afford a rocking chair…

        we truly are the ninja generation, and get continually hammered by everyone to fix all their problems for nothing, and work harder then ever to do as such, which i think makes most of us just not give a f…

        anyways, is what it is… life goes on…

  10. Avatar
    Michele McLaughlin

    As someone who has benefited greatly from being an artist whose music is played on Pandora, I can tell you that all this hate talk about Pandora is unsubstantiated. I am an independent musician, I own 100% of my publishing and songwriting rights. I earn 50% of the royalty for being the Rights Owner, and I earn 45% for being the Featured Artist, through SX. I also earn a chunk through ASCAP every quarter. My music gets millions of spins on Pandora every month, and my SX payments (90% of which is Pandora royalties) earn me a six figure income every year. If it weren’t for Pandora, and the exposure they bring to my music, I wouldn’t have those royalties. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have the sales through iTunes, and Amazon, and my own website that I do, a great deal of which is traffic driven by Pandora, Spotify, and other online streaming services. Those streaming services are driving listeners to buy my music and it’s a snowball effect that I am extremely grateful for.

    If you’re complaining about Pandora royalties, it’s probably because you don’t own 100% of your publishing or songwriting rights. Or, like JW stated above, maybe people aren’t connecting with your music enough to earn it significant airplay. If you’re only getting a small piece of the pie because the rest of it is going to your label, or collaborating songwriters and performers, that’s not Pandora’s fault. You’re casting blame in the wrong direction. If anything, you should be grateful that they’re playing your music to begin with. They’re not required to play it, nobody is forcing them to play it. Yet, they’re playing it, and that’s earning you some money and exposure. Some is better than none, right?

    • Avatar
      Michele McLaughlin

      I also want to point out that I do a lot on my end to encourage my fans to listen on Pandora. I have several sliders and buttons on my website for Pandora. I link to Pandora on other sites. I promote Pandora on social networking, and my newsletter. It benefits Pandora to have those listeners, and it benefits me to have those listeners. It’s symbiosis.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      earn me a six figure income every year.

      Sweet, that is good, congrats, and it does work for some, and you are in a better niche in order to take advantage of things, with less competition and a more loyal type fanbase as far as supporting monetarily goes…

      For those of us in more popular genres, its not good, as the money it costs to get the promotion and marketing needed to permeate the market and bust through the noise makes the return most often a losing proposition, so dont forget what works for one does not work for another…

      So while yes, a nova scotia fishermen specific band that wears kilts, will have a significantly better chance and likely positive return with these sorts of services, where their fans are a different breed and their niche is less competitive, which provides multiple benefits but does leave the revenue potential at a somewhat capped level…

      So please dont take this the wrong way, but these few niche success stories are not something we can hold onto as something that will benefit the bigger picture of creators, writers, producers and artists, and what is happening, is its leaving the popular genres only to big corporations, and that is not a good thing, for anyone, music specifically…

      • Avatar
        Anonymous

        more specifically Michelle, your direct competition is not a major label or any of their subsidieries or any independent rabidly scraping for the remaining crumbs, its likely another independent artist/writer with a small team and a loyal following who often cultivate with their competition, whereas the popular genres its a death match, thus making it so much easier for you to drop the old fishing net into the ocean and reel in a few more fishies…

        whereas i compete directly with the big corporations and their superstar deity artists, writers and producers, therefore anytime i even think about setting up the trawler i get scuttled, cornered, bullied, threatened and extorted… they have massive budgets and gigantic teams, they have mostly monopolistic control of the market and every platform imaginable… they have the ability to take me and put me on their radar as if im an enemy plane, and the thing is, the radar is not limited to a certain distant, im just beeping away on their radars 24/7/365, which makes it nearly impossible to draft up an awesome strategy in the war room without them sitting over my shoulder seeing every last move and thought, which again, makes it nearly impossible…

        so the answer isnt, make different music then, no, i didnt get into it to make scottish kilt music or whatever just so i can have a better chance in the niche seo game etc, im not playing some blog seo chase the search term etc. game or attached to making some career with music no matter what, i wanted to make music how i wanted to make music, regardless, so i get in the zone and become a transmission device where the muse flows through me from a higher and elevated ethereal force, meaning i just make what i make, it just comes out that way, theres basically zero prethought into making popular music for some benefit or reason, i make what the muse wants me to make, i cant help that, but i pay dearly because of it… because now after its done, theres no way to get it in front of people, and thats the reality…

        streaming does not help, but i deal with it… it certainly is like a lottery, sadly, most of the artists or people that are powerful or famous enough who could bolster a career just by adding a song to their playlist, are not allowed to add mine to theirs, because im their competition and not some whining screaming wannabe scratching at the door looking to be starmade, so im SOL essentially, which is fine, but as every artist can understand, we all want to find people who will enjoy and derive benefit from our work, sadly, in the popular genres, its essentially impossible… instead we mostly get cornered and beat down, told we suck and our music sucks and pissed and crapped on all the time, meanwhile we have a ton of fans, but they are not allowed to let us know they are fans or support us in any tangible way, until we join up with someone or something, so its a tough grind…

        this isnt some whine or oh poor me, this is top shelf information into the bigger picture of the game, from an artist/writer/producer/publisher/label perspective, thats all… be very thankful you do what you do, its much better on many levels…

        • Avatar
          Billw

          This argument makes no sense…you can’t say that pandora hurts you for being in a popular genre it’s actually the oppose. When you’re competing in a popular genre against major labels you will never get any spins on the radio. At least with pandora (or any other online service) you will get some exposure and spins which if you exploit and promote you can grow your fan base vs never ever in your life getting spun on the radio. Sure a more niche genre has less competition but these services are better than competing against the few 100 artists that are spun on the radio)

  11. Avatar
    dk

    dude’s got some enormous balls, he lobbied congress heavily to further lower the paltry payouts they give for streams. (i think i made a buck and change on tens of thousands of plays last year). and ‘radio pays zero’ guy above – i get played mostly on public radio, which is the shittiest paying terrestrial radio and i made a couple hundred last year.

    in europe, on the other hand – i get paid triple or quadruple what i get paid here per play on radio, public or otherwise. (most of their radio is public). i even get paid for being the singer on songs i didn’t write. i STILL get a about 20 bucks a year from danish radio for having sung background vocals on a minor hit there. yes, american musicians – europe pays the BAND, not just the writer.

    • Avatar
      jw

      You’re conflating performance & songwriting royalties. When I say terrestrial radio doesn’t pay royalties, I’m talking about performance royalties specifically (which is to say paying the band). And when I say terrestrial radio, I’m talking about American radio specifically.

      I don’t really want to get into the songwriting debate here, but, for what it’s worth, tens of thousands of Pandora single user listens is tantamount to one or two AAA terrestrial radio spin to tens of thousands of listeners. What’s your royalty on two terrestrial spins?

      • Avatar
        Mike C.

        Exactly. This is what most people miss when comparing Pandora to Terrestrial:

        20,000 “plays” on Pandora, where roughly 20,000 different people heard your song, is about equal to the number of people that heard your song play maybe 1 time on a mid-market FM terrestrial station. And the payout for that 1 spin on the FM station? Anywhere between 7 -19 cents, depending on time of day, market size, etc…

        • Avatar
          Versus

          Where is the 20,000 figure coming from for FM radio listenership? Is that an average?

      • Avatar
        Anonymous

        You’re conflating performance & songwriting royalties. When I say terrestrial radio doesn’t pay royalties, I’m talking about performance royalties specifically (which is to say paying the band). And when I say terrestrial radio, I’m talking about American radio specifically.

        I don’t really want to get into the songwriting debate here, but, for what it’s worth, tens of thousands of Pandora single user listens is tantamount to one or two AAA terrestrial radio spin to tens of thousands of listeners. What’s your royalty on two terrestrial spins?

        The band? You mean the uncreative fame whoring attention seeking front face wannabes, right? I care about whos making the property, not whos dancing around like they did so they can get laid that night and be famous…

        The songwriting royalties is what’s important, the performance royalties, well that is what it is, if the performers also made the stuff, perhaps this wouldnt be such a cacophony of nonsense…

        And yes, American radio is different and has always been that way, but IMO, if thats your lane, thats what you have to pay with… It has such massive benefits over streaming for thee band who doesnt write, who should not be on a public pedestal therefore, who should be playing small clubs and weddings as a cover bad, so yeah, there you go…

        • Avatar
          jw

          Clearly this is a very reasonable & not at all biased perspective on the matter.

          Thumbs up!

    • Avatar
      FWIW

      If you’re interested in understanding more about the FACT that American AM/FM radio stations do not pay royalties to performers and master owners visit the music industry coalition (artist reps AND label reps) working on getting this changed – http://musicfirstcoalition.org/performancerights.

      BTW – in nearly every other nation, terrestrial (AM/FM) radio pays BOTH performers/labels AND songwriters/publishers. For those of you who’ve written about the Ascap or BMI (songwriting) royalties you’ve collected for AAA or community radio spins, just imagine if that payment was coupled with a royalty for your performance as it rightly should be.

      Get informed. Get active.

  12. Avatar
    Jennifer Thomas

    Hi Tim,

    I for one am extremely grateful for Pandora. I just want to give you and your company a big hug and send you all chocolate 🙂 My music started being spinned on Pandora with my first album in 2007, and since then I have released two additional albums (all 3 on Pandora). I have gained a fairly large following here, and according to my AMP stats (thank you for creating those, btw), I currently am receiving a quarter of a million spins every single day from thousands of listeners who have created “Jennifer Thomas Radio” stations.

    I receive countless messages, tweets, and emails from fans who mention “I heard your music on Pandora and had to learn more”, or “I heard your song on Pandora and then bought your CD.” I am just constantly overwhelmed and so so grateful. These are all people who are hearing my music who might not have otherwise.

    This last year, my husband was able to quit his corporate job because my music career – where with Soundexchange income, Pandora spins, CD sales, digital downloads, sheet music sales (to name my main sources of income) was finally at a point I was earning more than he was, and so it just made sense. We both now concentrate 100% on my music and raising our family. We feel so blessed to wake up everyday and do what we actually love to do. I just feel so gratified that as an artist, my hard work, time, and talent IS being recognized. It’s amazing to know that I can support my family with my music, and Pandora has had a huge part in that – by introducing my music to the masses, and also paying me for hard work. And my trending reports show that it just continues to grow, which helps me to be very optimistic for the future as well.

    So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. THANK YOU…thank you….thank you.

    Jennifer Thomas
    Pianist, Violinist, Composer – Classical Crossover/Cinematic
    http://www.jenniferthomasmusic.com
    http://www.pandora.com/jennifer-thomas

  13. Avatar
    Jennifer Thomas

    Hi Tim,

    I also come from a similar view as Michele McLaughlin – I own 100% of my publishing with the exception of any cover songs I’ve done, and I get a 50% Rights Owner share, and 45% Feature Artist share.

    I for one am extremely grateful for Pandora. I just want to give you and your company a big hug and send you all chocolate 🙂 My music started being spinned on Pandora with my first album in 2007, and since then I have released two additional albums (all 3 on Pandora). I have gained a fairly large following here, and according to my AMP stats (thank you for creating those, btw), I currently am receiving a quarter of a million spins every single day from thousands of listeners who have created “Jennifer Thomas Radio” stations.

    I receive countless messages, tweets, and emails from fans who mention “I heard your music on Pandora and had to learn more”, or “I heard your song on Pandora and then bought your CD.” I am just constantly overwhelmed and so so grateful. These are all people who are hearing my music who might not have otherwise.

    This last year, my husband was able to quit his corporate job because my music career – where with Soundexchange income, Pandora spins, CD sales, digital downloads, sheet music sales (to name my main sources of income) was finally at a point I was earning more than he was, and so it just made sense. We both now concentrate 100% on my music and raising our family. We feel so blessed to wake up everyday and do what we actually love to do. I just feel so gratified that as an artist, my hard work, time, and talent IS being recognized. It’s amazing to know that I can support my family with my music, and Pandora has had a huge part in that – by introducing my music to the masses, and also paying me for hard work. And my trending reports show that it just continues to grow, which helps me to be very optimistic for the future as well.

    So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. THANK YOU…thank you….thank you.

    Jennifer Thomas
    Pianist, Violinist, Composer – Classical Crossover/Cinematic
    http://www.jenniferthomasmusic.com
    http://www.pandora.com/

    • Avatar
      MKB

      Great to hear Pandora is working for some people 🙂

      I have a theory:

      Instrumental music tends to build stronger fan bases than other genres, and has an easier time converting their fans from streaming to actual sales because their fans place greater value on it (than fans of, say, Iggy Azalea place on her music).

      I’m not saying that’s bad or anything, it’s just something I’ve considered a few times comparing different artists.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      which is awesome, and that is great, but it isnt good for anyone in popular genres, which leaves massive corps with the huge advantage over the massive advantage they already have, and that is not a good thing…

      it will always help the niches, but unless you are rich or on a major, you cant compete in the popular genres, which no one has to care about, but which will have a negative affect on everybody if it isnt fixed…

      just like if i want to enter the blogosphere, now i have to choose such an abstract small niche in order to have any chance at seo techniques and promotion to work to any level there may be even a break even result, take it into popular genres where you compete with huge servers and huge corporations with huge budgets and already massive traffic, its impossible, thus leaving them with more control and more power, which is not a good thing…

      so sure, this free market thing is good, but it is not good for any writer, producer, composer or artist in popular genres, where most of the meat gets grilled and where most of the influence is….

      whether you own all your master and publishing rights or not, in popular genres, its nearly impossible in streaming to permeate or break through the noise… maybe if i paid off a taylor swift to create a playlist including one of my songs it might have some positive benefit, if i thought her demographic and fanbase was appropriate for my music, but otherwise, no one will ever hear it through random searching to the point it will longtail build to provide any positive benefit towards a career of any kind or a fanbase coagulation that would result in positive boosts where needed…

  14. Avatar
    jw

    I’m trying to explain the semantics to you so that you can participate in the debate, but you’re arguing whether someone who doesn’t write their songs should be called an artist or not. No one cares about your opinion of someone like Kelly Clarkson. That’s not even on the table. Call them artists, call them performers… the term is only being used to distinguish between different types of royalties, not to justify or promote any certain type of career path. That’s not even an interesting debate to have. It’s subjective & it doesn’t have any bearing on how the industry works. You’re out in left field trying to debate something that only matters to you, because it’s all coming from your insecurities. You’re continually trying to justify yourself, while I’m trying to make a point about Pandora payouts that has nothing to do with you.

    I’m dead serious when I say that I think you could benefit a lot from a licensed therapist.

    • Avatar
      jw

      If you’re gonna delete the comments I was replying to, might as well delete these, too.