Music License Fees

LPFM Broadcasters

If you are a Low Power FM radio station (“LPFM”), the PROs provide you with these special rates for broadcast radio transmissions:

2014 2015 2016 2017
ASCAP (1-10 Watts) $151 (Increased each year to reflect inflation)
ASCAP (10-75 Watts) $228 (Increased each year to reflect inflation)
ASCAP (75-100 Watts) $272 (Increased each year to reflect inflation)
BMI $325 $332 $339 $345
SESAC $140 $143 $146 n/a

Online Streaming

If you plan on live streaming or simulcasting your station over the Internet (also known as noninteractive streaming), there is another layer of music licensing. When playing songs over the radio, only the authors/composers/writers of the song have to be compensated (the owners of the “musical work” copyright), but when streaming songs over the Internet, the performers/producers have to be compensated as well (the owners of the “sound recording” copyright, which is usually assigned to record labels). The Librarian of Congress has entrusted SoundExchange to collect and distribute this compensation. 

ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC charge a fee for online streaming, separate from the fee they charge for broadcast radio transmissions. So, if you are transmitting music over broadcast radio and also live streaming/simulcasting music online, you must obtain two separate licenses from these PROs, in additional to the one from SoundExchange.

The license from SoundExchange requires that you abide by the “sound recording performance complement,” which states the following: 1) No more than 4 tracks by the same featured artist (or from a compilation album) may be streamed to the same listener within a 3 hour period (and no more than 3 of those tracks may be streamed consecutively); and 2) No more than 3 tracks from the same album may be streamed to the same listener within a 3 hour period (and no more than 2 of those tracks may be streamed consecutively).

SoundExchange charges “Noncommercial Webcasters” a flat rate of $500, but it also charges additional per performance fees for all transmissions over 159,140 Aggregate Tuning Hours (ATH) per month. One (1) ATH is one (1) person listening to your station online for one (1) hour. If two (2) people listen to your station online for thirty (30) minutes, that is also one (1) ATH, and if six (6) people listen for twenty (20) minutes, that is two (2) ATHs. 

Make sure to ask SoundExchange if you are eligible for what are called “WSA rates.” The default rates (“CRB rates”) require that you keep track of your ATHs. Many online streaming services will keep track of that information for you. On the other hand, WSA rates allow you to estimate performances, in which you can assume 12 performances per hour for music stations, and 1 performance per hour for non-music stations. WSA rates are also preferable if you plan on exceeding 159,140 ATH, in that the additional per performance fees are lower than the CRB per performance fees.

Those Noncommercial Webcasters that do no exceed 44,000 ATH per year fall under the “Noncommercial Microcaster” category. While Noncommercial Microcasters are also charged a flat rate of $500, they can waive the requirement to submit monthly or quarterly reports to SoundExchange for an additional $100.

LPFM Webcasters

2014 2015 2016 2017
ASCAP,(≤$24,000 in Revenue*/yr. & ≤360,000 Sessions**/yr.) $240 (Increased each year to reflect inflation)
BMI (≤3.5 million page impressions/yr.) $345 (Increased each year to reflect inflation)
SESAC $93 $93 $93 n/a
SoundExchange $500 $500 n/a

Other Noncommercial Webcasters

2014 2015 2016 2017
ASCAP,(≤$24,000 in Revenue*/yr. & ≤360,000 Sessions**/yr.) $240 (Increased each year to reflect inflation)
BMI (≤3.5 million page impressions/yr.) $345 (Increased each year to reflect inflation)
SESAC*** $93 $93 $93 n/a
SoundExchange $500 $500 n/a n/a

*Revenue is the sum of all payments received by you for or in connection with streaming.

**A visit/engagement of 20 minutes in duration is equal to 1 Session; a visit/engagement of 2 hours and 20 minutes in duration is equal to 3 Sessions.

***If you simulcast via a website or app that is owned or operated by a third party, add $23.25/yr.

Please note that this information on SoundExchange does not pertain to noncommercial webcasters owned by accredited educational institutions and primarily operated by students.

Podcasting

Podcasting is different from streaming your live broadcast online because it is on-demand. Music available to stream on-demand will not be covered with a SoundExchange license, and permission to publicly perform such music must be obtained from the owner of the sound recording (usually the record label). And if you are making your podcast available for download, you must obtain additional “mechanical licenses” for the reproduction and distribution of the music. 

Additional Reading

bmi.com/licensing/entry/radio

ascap.com/licensing/types/radio

sesac.com/Licensing/FAQsBroadcast.aspx

soundexchange.com

The Basics of Music Licensing in Digital Media: 2011 Update

We extend our thanks to Charles Frank, Breanne Hoke, and the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic at American University’s Washington College for helping to prepare this information.

 

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