Pandora today revealed some very interesting numbers regarding how much it pays the artists behind the content available on its online radio service. It turns out that the automated music recommendation service is shelling out quite a bit of money for many popular artists: anywhere between $10,000 to $3 million to be exact.
Pandora Founder Tim Westergren gives the specifics:
For over two thousand artists Pandora will pay over $10,000 dollars each over the next 12 months (including one of my favorites, the late jazz pianist Oscar Peterson), and for more than 800 we’ll pay over $50,000, more than the income of the average American household. For top earners like Coldplay, Adele, Wiz Khalifa, Jason Aldean and others Pandora is already paying over $1 million each. Drake and Lil Wayne are fast approaching a $3 million annual rate each.
Basic math ($10,000 * 2,000 + $50,000 * 800 + 4 * $1,000,000 + 2 * $3,000,000) shows us that Pandora is shelling out at least $70 million annually, but given that we took the lower estimate in all the cases mentioned above, and taking last years numbers into account, the figure is easily well over $100 million. That’s impressive.
Unfortunately, without play counts for the songs belonging to these artists, it’s difficult to gauge how well the artists are being paid. As we pointed out last month, artists are making less than a cent on both iTunes Match and Spotify.
Still, the raw figures are nothing to scoff at, as Westergren notes:
It’s hard to look at these numbers and not see that internet radio presents an incredible opportunity to build a better future for artists. Not only is it bringing tens of millions of listeners back to music, across hundreds of genres, but it is also enabling musicians to earn a living. Since Pandora accounts for just 6.53% of all radio listening in the U.S., it seems fundamentally unfair that other forms of radio that represent much larger shares of U.S. radio listening pay substantially less to artists.
Pandora of course wants to grab a larger market share of all radio listening in the country, and it wants to point out that artists benefit as the service grows.
Image credit: Tracy Olson