After streaming out one million times over Pandora, artist David Lowery received just $16.89. The songwriter and musician's song "Low" was streamed 1,159,000 times on Pandora in a three-month period, where he received that piddly amount of money.
Spotify streamed his song 116,620 times and paid him $12.05 for this amount and lastly, Sirius XM streamed the song 179 times paying him $181.94 - more than $1 per stream, a much better amount. Who is to blame here from this piddly amount paid from Pandora? The US government, and more specifically, the US Congress.
US Congress are the ones who set the rates at which royalties are paid to artists. Lowery himself explains:
For you civilians webcasting rates are "compulsory" rates. They are set by the government (crazy, right?). Further since they are compulsory royalties, artists can not "opt out" of a service like Pandora even if they think Pandora doesn't pay them enough. The majority of songwriters have their rates set by the government, too, in the form of the ASCAP and BMI rate courts-a single judge gets to decide the fate of songwriters (technically not a "compulsory" but may as well be).