A few days ago, David Lowery sent waves around the net after he claimed on his blog that the music-streaming service Pandora paid him just $16.89 in royalties after broadcasting his song “Low” over a million times.
A Pandora Spokesman reached out to Carbonated.TV this morning with an official statement regarding David Lowery’s article. Here is the E-Mail, printed with the Pandora Spokesman’s permission.
“Mr. Lowery's calculations grossly understate Pandora’s payments to songwriters. In truth, Pandora paid many times more in songwriter royalties to play the song referenced in his article. The post also neglects to mention that the rates Pandora pays were set by the very organizations that represent songwriters and publishers. These organizations – BMI and ASCAP – are the very same groups that recently agreed to a long-term licensing agreement with the terrestrial radio industry to pay songwriters significantly less than Pandora.
This much is true: Pandora is by far the highest paying form of radio in the world and proudly pays both songwriters and performers. For perspective, to reach the exact same audience, Pandora currently pays over 4.5 times more in total royalties than broadcast radio for the same song. In fact, at only 7% of U.S. radio listening, Pandora pays more in performance royalties than any other form of radio.”
In hindsight, Lowery may have gone too specific in singling out Pandora for their payment model. It does seem that Pandora follows many music-business staples in how they license and sell their content, and even goes above and beyond at some junctures.
However, the fact remains that even if Lowery did in fact receive multiple times more in royalties than he reported, he still made no more than a few-hundred in compensation for over a million uses of his song. And if that isn’t a problem with Pandora, it’s certainly a problem with the music business as a whole.