Vevo: We pay musicians more royalties than anyone else

In the ever-shifting landscape of streaming media, one company is positioning itself as being just that little bit more of a friend to musicians than everyone else. Vevo, the music video service part-owned by Sony Music and Universal Music, has revealed that it has paid $200 million in revenue to the music industry since it began in 2009.

The number came from Vevo President and Chief Executive Officer Rio Caraeff during an appearance on Tuesday of this week at the Business Inside: Ignition Conference in New York City, according to a report on Billboard Magazine’s website. Telling the assembled audience that an audience “that loves music should be treated and valued the same way as the audience that loves the Super Bowl, and revenue should flow as such,” Caraeff went on to say that his company is on target to pay more in royalty revenue to the music industry this year alone than it did in the first two years of its existence combined, a figure that that Billboard estimates somewhere in the region of $100 million.

The issue of royalty payments from music streamed online has been one under a lot of discussion recently, with over 100 musicians adding their name to an open letter to Pandora that appeared in a recent print edition of Billboard, protesting that company’s support of the Internet Radio Fairness Act, which would ensure that musicians would receive less royalty money from streaming services as laws would reclassify Internet streaming media to more closely resemble satellite radio services as opposed to traditional broadcast radio. The letter asked Pandora to drop its support of the legislation and stop “asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon.”

Pandora hasn’t stayed quiet on the issue, of course, with an October blog post by company founder Tim Westergren pointing out that it was offering royalty revenue to artists who would normally not receive any radio play and announcing that it would be paying “over $10,000… each over the next twelve months” to over two thousand artists, with more than eight hundred receiving a check for an amount over $50,000 (or, as Pandora put it, “more than the income of the average American household) and “top earners like Coldplay, Adele, Wiz Khalifa, Jason Aldean and others” making more than $1 million each year. Despite this, however, Westergren argued that “we can do better, both for artists and music fans,” with that being defined as “Congress [stopping] the discrimination against internet radio and allow[ing] it to operate on a level playing field, under the same rules as other forms of digital radio.”

It’s hard to imagine that Vevo’s announcement of revenue sharing is entirely unrelated to Pandora’s current fight with the musician community, although a spokesperson for Vevo declined to confirm the figures shared by Caraeff.

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