Radio Doesn’t Pay Artists. That Cannot Continue.


More from Westergren about radio. He says one of the big tectonic shifts in the years to come will be the migration of listeners off of radio and over to Internet radio. And he says one of the reasons that will happen has to do with the fact that radio doesn’t pay artists for their music and Pandora does.

Of course, you’ve all heard this argument before. And there was no follow-up about the promotional partnership radio has with artists, a relationship artists tout whenever and wherever they can. Here’s more from the Pandora CEO.

Westergren says one of the facts about the music industry right now is that broadcast radio does not pay royalties to artists. “We pay more in royalties than the entire radio industry pays, as a single company. That’s not a complaint about our structure. That’s the elephant in the room. That’s a $17 billion industry that does not compensate recording artists. That can’t go on and it either gets changed through regulation or it gets changed because people stop listening to that medium, and that’s starting to happen. That’s a big shift, going from an industry that pays nothing to an industry that pays half its revenue.”


  1. He’s wrong. Some radio companies pay artists. The truth is radio companies have been negotiating directly with labels to give a share of broadcast revenues in exchange for a discount for online royalties. Several US based labels have come to the negotiating table, including Big Machine. Their artists ARE being paid by radio. Only the foreign owned labels like Sony and Universal refuse to come to the table. Unless the government changes the law, the only way artists can get paid is if their labels negotiate. If they don’t, artists need to go to their labels to demand that they negotiate. The labels and the government are the impediments. Not radio.

    The other way radio pays artists is via digital royalties. The #1 payer of artists, after Pandora, is OTA radio. So someone needs to tell the truth here, because it’s not coming from Westergren.

    • Whoops: Radio is #2 in payments to artists. Sorry for my error. My point is broadcast radio pays royalties to artists in the only legal way it can. Artists aren’t a charity where radio donates. Payments have to be made in legal ways. Right now, the only legal way is direct negotiation, and the major labels refuse. So how is that radio’s problem?

  2. Hahahahahahahahaahahahahhhahahahha!
    The same general public who listens to services like Pandora and Spotify so they DON’T have to spend money on music cares about artists?
    Hey Radio Ink – why don’t you bring back that Agency guy that says he would pay more for Radio if we ran less spots and put him in a room with this guy? Of course it would be a rubber room because they both have the same type of delusion. Or are they both just full of………..

  3. “And he says one of the reasons that will happen has to do with the fact that radio doesn’t pay artists for their music and Pandora does.”
    The general public cares about that?!? Does he also believe people shop at Wal-Mart because it is “family owned”? Wow – they really are though.


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