NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sometimes I feel as if I exist on another planet. Or, at the very least, I don't reside on the same one as the shuckers and jivers who pioneer the streaming radio/streaming music spaces.
Case in point: Thanks to Digital Music News for bringing this to my attention. Last week, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told CNN Money he's "absolutely sure that artists will make a decent living ... in the next few years."
A decent living ... in the next few years. Hey man. I'm sure the musicians' working class Pandora (P) co-founder and former Chief Strategy Officer has been miraging (my word, as in mirage-ing) about for the last decade appreciates the inspirational optimism as they attempt to piece together a living.
In 2012, Ek was estimated to be worth north of $300 million. I'm not sure what Ek is worth today, but, on paper, it's got to be a hefty sum. And, sooner or later, via an IPO and/or some M&A, he'll be worth even more, as he still personally owns between 10% and 15% of the company. He'll be every bit as filthy rich as Westergren and other Pandora executives who continue to live high on the hog at the same time as they argue that their company is "resource constrained" (Westergren's words).
Because -- ding, ding, ding -- Pandora brass continue to ring the register. The company now has reached a market cap of $5.4 billion. Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble has been cashing out at a furious pace of late, most recently grossing a cool $1,097,600 after exercising options granted at prices between 16 cents and $13.26 per share. Must be nice! When you tell your kids money doesn't grow on trees be sure to explain the exceptions that exist at places such as Pandora. Trimble's in charge of revenue alright -- generating his own on the backs of shareholders and the musicians' working class at a "resource-constrained" company.
The more you see this stuff happen -- from Ek to Westergren to Trimble -- the better you understand why quite a few folks who perform and/or write songs don't like streaming media companies such as Spotify and Pandora. If nothing else, their angst is justified on a symbolic level. Which is interesting -- these artists have lots in common with the average workaday retail investor. Both carry a considerable distrust of factions that enrich themselves while the rest of us grind it out.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.