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What? John Popper is cool with tiny Pandora payout

Friday, 24 Jan 2014 | 3:09 PM ET
Songwriters get the runaround
Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 | 7:52 PM ET
Blues Traveler's John Popper discusses how Internet music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify affect royalties.

Is the online music industry giving songwriters the "Run-Around?"

You might be surprised to know that Blues Traveler lead singer John Popper, who wrote that song, doesn't think so.

Pandora pays songwriters an average of only 8 cents for every 1,000 plays. That works out to 4.3 percent of Pandora-generated revenue going to publishers and songwriters, and half going to record labels and performers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Pandora and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers are in federal court this week in case involving the future of online music payments.

Internet radio plays aren't a steady income source for musicians but have other, worthwhile benefits, according to Popper.

(Read more: Beats launches streaming music service)

"Throughout history, musicians have never counted on intellectual property really getting them rich," he said on CNBC's "The Kudlow Report." "A very tiny fraction of people make a lot of money with records in the old way."

But what services like Pandora and Spotify lack as serious moneymakers for musicians they make up for in bringing in new fans—and you can't put a price on that, Popper said.

"Eight cents for every 1,000 plays sounds really cheap, but you have to consider that [these] fans would have never listened to you in the first place ... and it's a way to promote yourself," he said.

(Read more: Why Web radio remains the best stock play in auto tech: Pro)

Piano tribute to Popper
In honor of Blues Traveler lead singer John Popper joining the Kudlow Report, CNBC security guard and resident pianist Eddy Rodriguez performs BT's "Run-Around" in the lobby of CNBC headquarters.

"Ultimately, musicians make their money in live concerts," Popper added.

He offered future musicians and songwriters some advice.

"Never count on a royalty check," he said. "Try to own the songs you write because you could get lucky, but you are ultimately going to have to perform your own sounds."

—By CNBC's Bree Kelly and Ross LeClair. Follow them on Twitter @bree_kelly and @rossLeClair.

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  • Lawrence Kudlow is a CNBC senior contributor. Previously, Kudlow was anchor of CNBC's prime-time program "The Kudlow Report"