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Just how much do musicians make from Pandora and Spotify?

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Digital music rights
Digital music rights

For the past few days, musicians have been urging Congress to reject the Internet Radio Fairness Act, legislation that would reduce the royalties paid by internet radio stations like Pandora. It's a continuation of a longer debate over whether the online streaming model is feasible for musicians. In a recent Pitchfork article, Damon Krukowski of Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi argues that streaming music services like Spotify have eroded the old model for getting paid for albums without offering anything in return. "It would take songwriting royalties for roughly 312,000 plays on Pandora to earn us the profit of one — one — LP sale," he writes.

"When I started making records, the model of economic exchange was exceedingly simple: make something, price it for more than it costs to manufacture, and sell it if you can," says Krukowski. "The model now seems closer to financial speculation." While he doesn't mention other models that have certainly contributed to the decline of album sales, it's a detailed and personal look at how at least some musicians see the rise of streaming services.