Artist Royalty Program (Slight Return)

Friday, 7 November 2008
by jonas
filed under Announcements
Comments: 20

With the Artist Royalty Program we wanted to solve a crucial problem. Since we started in 2002 we had licensed music from various ‘content owners’ (major and indie labels as well as digital music distribution companies), and we also paid money to collections societies all over the world. But there were certain artists and labels losing out: those who do not have access to all the above, or chose not to be part of this traditional music industry network.

The process to solve this started with two goals. First, we wanted to continue to be an effective promotional platform for all artists, a place where we could connect music makers with new fans. (Our recommendations are key to achieving this: an artist on doesn’t have to keep reaching out to people, as our system will automatically find new music for everyone based on their existing music taste.) Secondly, we wanted to build a fair system that shared’s revenue with those artists. In this way, as grows, the commercial success that comes with that will be shared with all music makers, of whatever stripe.

After months of research, discussion and technical development, we launched our Artist Royalty Program at the beginning of July. From then on, artists and labels that opted into the program started accruing royalties (if their music was being played on the site, of course). Last Friday we finished the final part of this work, and have published royalty reports to all artists, and will now automatically do so every three months. And for the first time we could actually see ourselves how our royalties were being distributed between all artists and labels.

First of all, I saw something that was not surprising: there are many labels that will collect a small amount of royalties and some who collect a lot. The Long Tail never fails. Then I was looking through the labels that were the top earners and I made some interesting discoveries: there were plenty of labels in there that I had never heard of. I was surprised but equally pleased that some (what I would call niche) content owners used to find their audience through our recommendation system, and were able to do this successfully. We have been saying for years that can work very well for less well-known artists – since our recommendation system will find fans even for the most obscure artist – and now we have some very hard proof for that.

There are now 85,000 artists and labels collecting royalties from us directly and this number is rising steadily. And of course I want to mention: if you make music too you can join right now.


  1. Adam
    7 November, 17:28

    But… when we’re going to see Merlin and Warner Music Group stuff here?

    Adam – 7 November, 17:28
  2. ian
    7 November, 17:52

    can’t they just sign up to this program?

    ian – 7 November, 17:52
  3. Lovell
    8 November, 03:34

    Warner has proven themselves time and time again to be a bunch of dicks. So I’m not expecting anything from them.

    Lovell – 8 November, 03:34
  4. thisisall1word
    8 November, 13:03

    Any plans to provide royalties information on the site somewhere or is this only released artist by artist, label by label because of confidentiality?
    Would be interesting to see how many plays someone got and what royalties were paid out and compare between different artists.

    Just idle curiosity this – no dying desire!

    thisisall1word – 8 November, 13:03
  5. Confused
    8 November, 19:44

    By my calculations, for an artist to collect just $1000 per month she would have to have 2,000,000 streams.

    I don’t really see how Last.FM’s royalty program could possibly be profitable at all for an artist.

    Confused – 8 November, 19:44
  6. Rodriguez
    9 November, 00:56

    Sounds great guys, but I have some questions. Are all international artists eligible for this? Or is it only for artists living in certain countries? Are streams from every country counted? How are payments to artists made?

    Rodriguez – 9 November, 00:56
  7. Tecfan
    9 November, 17:51

    yey. I made £0.22

    Tecfan – 9 November, 17:51
  8. thisisall1word
    9 November, 21:43

    With regards to [user]Confused[/user]‘s post, if you were an artist and your only source of income was royalties from then you would be quiet right, however, I imagine that artists also profit some by the massive source of awareness generated by the website, especially smaller artists. And so may well help artists sell mp3s, albums, gig tickets, etc. I myself have bought a fair few CDs and LPs after hearing of a band via

    thisisall1word – 9 November, 21:43
  9. Matt
    10 November, 04:56

    This is an excellent initiative by It’s good to see CBS investing in such bold ideas. Has there been any attempt to get the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) to sign up?

    Matt – 10 November, 04:56
  10. waba
    10 November, 10:43

    I made €2.30 for the last three months, I’m gonna be rich!

    waba – 10 November, 10:43
  11. Jessica
    11 November, 04:20

    where does the funding to pay out thee royalites come from? im a subscriber but i know we dont pay per play…

    Jessica – 11 November, 04:20
  12. James
    12 November, 01:30

    I’m pissed off with Warner, half my bands are with them on here.

    James – 12 November, 01:30
  13. rclsbtr
    12 November, 16:41

    off-topic: bring back yesterday’s website design!

    rclsbtr – 12 November, 16:41
  14. Adam
    14 November, 11:13

    Oh, I miss so much stuff here…

    Adam – 14 November, 11:13
  15. LMXV
    19 November, 10:53

    I made $0.88 with if I remember, I think, 600 plays or 800.

    LMXV – 19 November, 10:53
  16. Mal, MNN
    19 November, 18:03

    thanks for all your work to provide soooo much music here and to include indies !!!

    Mal, MNN – 19 November, 18:03
  17. pixites
    20 November, 10:15

    are you on twitter?

    pixites – 20 November, 10:15
  18. Epsos Dee
    21 November, 07:26

    Nice way to make artists happy.
    I think this move is rather a symbolic one, because the smaller artists will never accumulate enough listeners to make some profit from this program.

    Epsos Dee – 21 November, 07:26
  19. Match
    24 November, 11:35

    Good stuff. Thanks and greetings!

    Match – 24 November, 11:35
  20. Shakeela
    25 November, 09:31

    well… i visit your website first time and found this site very usefull and intresting !

    well… you guys doing nice work and i just want to say that keep rocking and keep it up !!!!


    Shakeela – 25 November, 09:31

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