Music News

Will Pandora and Spotify and the Internet Ever Figure Out How to Pay Artists?

Music-discovery apps like Spotify and Pandora are free, but they have social costs. Among them: Every six months or so, we get an open letter from an artist who is being cut comically tiny checks for thousands of plays on one service or another. This week, it's musician and label-owner Blake Morgan, who reportedly made $1.62 for 27,900 spins on Pandora.

Having seen enough tiny checks by now -- having heard the arguments that are made on one side and the other after each tiny check hits the blogs for a couple of days -- I'm down to one hypothesis to suggest: The Internet startup business model is especially ill-suited for artists of all kinds. It's hard to pay somebody for music or words or video when your medium-term goal isn't profit, and Spotify and Pandora have never consistently made money.