Free music streaming continues to be in the spotlight. Whether it's the small payouts to artists or the ongoing public spat with YouTube, free streaming continues to divide the music business. And there are some key players still trying to make this model work, like Pandora.
Pitchfork has a decent crack at trying understand what is actually a critical issue. Free drives users to services like Spotify, where they are doing a pretty good job at converting them to paying users (about 30%). But while the almost-entirely free services like Pandora and YouTube (now that its added a paid tier), have paid significant amounts to the industry (US$385 million in the US last year), these are actually pretty small compared to paid streaming - about US$1.2 billion.
In fact even vinyl sales generated more revenue, while radio ad revenue was about US$17 billion. Sp free ad-supported streaming has a long way to go.