2014 was a great year for singer Pharrell Williams. His song “Happy” secured him Grammy nominations for Best Music Video and Best Pop Solo Performance.
But despite Pharrell’s ubiquity, “Happy” made only $US2,700 in publisher and songwriter royalties from 43 million Pandora streams in the first quarter of 2014, according to an email from music publisher Sony/ATV CEO Marty Bandier obtained by Digital Music News.
In the letter, Bandier said a million streams of a song on Pandora yields roughly just $US60 in royalties.
“This is a totally unacceptable situation and one that cannot be allowed to continue,” Bandier wrote.
Fusion’s Rob Wile points out that these numbers aren’t all-inclusive and don’t include performance rights royalty rates, so Pharrell likely earned more than the paltry $US2,700 figure.
“According to industry analyst Michael DeGusta, Pharrell would likely have earned approximately $US25,000 from the 43 million plays,” Wile says.
Bandier added: “We at Sony/ATV want these digital music services to be successful because they are a great way for music fans to listen to music and have the potential to generate significant new revenues for everyone. However, this success should not come at the expense of songwriters whose songs are essential for these services to exist and thrive.”
Pandora is the most used sreaming service, which paints a pretty ugly picture for artists looking to make a living off of their craft. Taylor Swift recently spoke out about how little artists make from streaming, claiming that services like Spotify don’t appropriately value her art.
Swift pulled her entire catalogue from Spotify in protest this year.
Given how little he’s making from streaming, it comes as no surprise that Pharrell is among a group of artists demanding that YouTube take down thousands of songs it doesn’t have permission to share.
If YouTube doesn’t remove the 20,000 songs, a legal group called Global Music Rights — which represents artists including Pharrell, The Eagles, John Lennon, and Smokey Robinson — says they will bring a $US1 billion lawsuit against Google, YouTube’s parent company.