Pandora Reveals How Much It Pays Artists, Claims Drake, Lil Wayne Rake In $3 Million A Year

If you think artists on Pandora never get paid by the music-streaming service, think again.

On Tuesday, Pandora founder Tim Westergren released a statement detailing just how much Pandora pays its musicians, and the figure may very well shock you.

Responding to criticism that artists make little or no money from its services, Westergren wrote that the "revenue stream" that musicians receive from Pandora can actually be "meaningful."

He claims that popular artists such as Adele, Jason Aldean and Wiz Khalifa are making more than $1 million every year, while some -- like Drake and Lil Wayne -- are raking in almost $3 million annually.

Westergren added that it's not just the superstar musicians who are benefitting from being on Pandora:

For over two thousand artists Pandora will pay over $10,000 dollars each over the next 12 months (including one of my favorites, the late jazz pianist Oscar Peterson), and for more than 800 we'll pay over $50,000, more than the income of the average American household…

This revenue stream is meaningful. I remember the many years I spent in a band when earning an additional thousand dollars a month would have been the difference between making music an avocation and a hobby. We're talking here about the very real possibility of creating, for the first time ever, an actual musicians middle class.

However, despite these impressive figures, Greg Sandoval of CNET argues that these numbers may not provide the full picture:

That sounds like a lot until you realize that Pandora generated $100 million in the second-quarter alone. My music industry sources have said for a long time that the majors and indie labels have complained for a long time that Pandora doesn't generate a lot of money for artists and that it siphons off demand for downloads.

Sandoval added, however, that Pandora "sounds a lot more artist friendly than Spotify."

Last month, Mashable notes, Pandora "rallied people around the Internet Radio Fairness Act, a bill introduced to the U.S. Congress that would curb the royalties music-streaming services pay compared to terrestrial and satellite radio."

In his statement Tuesday, Westergren reiterated his belief that the bill would only be fair, based on the "numbers."

“Since Pandora accounts for just 6.53% of all radio listening in the U.S., it seems fundamentally unfair that other forms of radio that represent much larger shares of U.S. radio listening pay substantially less to artists,” Westergren said. “Congress must stop the discrimination against internet radio and allow it to operate on a level playing field, under the same rules as other forms of digital radio.”

Do you support the Internet Radio Fairness Act? Are you surprised by how much Pandora pays its artists? Is it enough?

Tell us what you think in the comments below.