The Los Angeles Times’ Technology blog reports the income as a “relatively small but steady stream.” In other words, it won’t make anybody rich, but it does show YouTube’s potential as a revenue stream.

The model is simple enough. Labels receive a pre-negotiated fee whenever their videos are viewed on YouTube. The payouts are derived from advertising sales, such as those ads you might see when viewing a video.

But no one is extremely thrilled with receiving royalty bucks from YouTube. Despite being the go-to place on the Web for all things video, even the most-played music vids generate only a few dollars.

For instance, the Times blogger cites Pete Waterman, author of “Never Gonna Give You Up” as only making a few YouTube bucks on Rick Astley’s 1987 hit.

Surprised? You’re not the only one. “Never Gonna Give You Up” was the punch line for the Internet “RickRoll” phenomena where people were lured into watching a video promising something worth watching but were shown Astley’s video of the song instead. Those suckered into watching the tune were referred to as having been “RickRolled.”

But despite how many folks were RickRolled during the last few years, songwriter Waterman says he’s only made about $15. However, any money made on YouTube showing the vid is split among several sources, such as Waterman’s two co-writers, the label, the publisher, and – of course – Astley himself.

On the other hand, the Times points out if the song had received as much airplay as the video received views on YouTube, the royalty checks would have been much larger. Not enough, perhaps, to retire on, but definitely more than $15.

Just goes to show that, while YouTube shows promise as a revenue stream for the music industry, the big bucks are still coming from sales, airplays and concerts. YouTube isn’t going to save the music industry today. But tomorrow might be a different story.

Click here to read the entire Los Angeles Times / Technology piece.