The general public’s assumption about internet streaming radio is that it pays very little to the artists who supply the music — and with a la carte services like Spotify, that may well be true. But Pandora founder Tom Westergren reiterated today that Pandora’s payouts can amount to big bucks — as much as $3 million for top artists, and strong, middle-class incomes for hundreds of others.
Westergren says that more than 2,000 artists will receive $10,000 over the next year, and more than 800 will make more than $50,000 (that’s close to the median household income in the United States — the very definition of a middle-class income). A few very popular artists like Wiz Khalifa, Adele, Coldplay, Lil Wayne, and Drake will rake in anywhere from $1 million to almost $3 million in the same period.
Westergren wasn’t crystal clear as to whether this is the payout to the artist’s label (in which case said artist would get a smaller cut in the end) or the after-label-cut claim by artists themselves. We’re betting it’s the first.
Still, that’s not too shabby — especially given that it is just one of a number of possible revenue streams for artists, and like traditional radio, it likely doesn’t cut much into actual album sales. Those remain by far the best deal for artists in terms of what portion of the cash goes directly to the artist.
The Pandora founder stepped up to share this information in part as political activism against a bill that he believes would penalize internet radio companies in favor of traditional and satellite radio — two models that we are agree are on gradually the way out.