Music licensing fees are a necessary operating expense for any radio station. At the initial stages of planning this is often overlooked and worse ignored once the station is in operation. We all hate paying fees, but lets think about this for a moment. The artists and song writers need to make a living and the music is their product. These licensing fees are how they put food on the table and stay inspired to create more great works. With thousands of customers using their product, it would be impossible for them to individually collect royalty and copyright payments from broadcasters and others using their music. Enter the three major music licensing organizations: the American Society of Composers , Artists, and Composers(ASCAP); Broadcast Music Incorporated(BMI); and the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers(SESAC). These three organizations collectively represent the majority of professional musicians in the United States. Blanket annual license fees solve the time consuming job of tracking and reporting each individual song placed.
Every radio station in the United States are required by copyright law to obtain music licenses for broadcast of copyright materials. Unless you know exactly what artists, composers and publishers your station will air, you will be required to obtain a license from all three authorities.
Approximately $151 – $272 Annually
Broadcast Wattage License Fee
1 – 10 Watts $151
10 – 75 Watts $228
75 – 100 Watts $272
- Music Reports – You agree to furnish a list of all musical compositions on your radio programs showing the title, composer and author of each composition during a one month period of their choice within the calendar year.
- Each license has a one-year term that is automatically renewed unless terminated by either party. The first year of broadcast is pro-rated from your start date. You must submit payment for the full yearly license fee upon your acceptance of the license agreement.
- Annual license fee for this term is $345 payable upon execution of the agreement.
- Due January 15 of each year; pro-rated from start date.
- You may need to furnish information on an official BMI form for one week of each year of the term.
A compulsory license for public performances of musical compositions broadcast over non-commercial educational broadcasting stations. License fee is for the period January 1 through December 31. A SESAC acknowledgment letter and copies of cancelled checks or credit card transaction receipts are confirmation that the station is licensed by SESAC.
License fee for LPFM is $140.
Complete online application at:
http://www.sesac.com/licensing/low_poer_info.aspx and submit fee.
Steven M. Counce
Broadcast/Internet Licensing Rep
615-320-0055 ext. 3020
As soon as you sign-on your station, contact each authority to send you their agreements. Be mindful of the portion concerning blanket licensing fees for LPFM stations. Payment of the annual fee is based on a pro ration – based on the number of months left in the year depending on when you started broadcasting.
So you’ve sent in the agreements and payments, now BONUS TIME!
The good news is that Radio stations get music from many sources – FREE! CDs and tapes from famous and unknown performers will begin coming in the mail. Normally new artists want air play, not a check from you! You might buy music at a store, download from the Internet, or people might give the station music from their personal collection. Be sure to check the music label to see if it is licensed or check the artist databases from the aforementioned licensing authorities. Before using any unlicensed music it’s a good idea to contact the artist as well as the licensing authorities. Some new artists may not understand the laws and may be inadvertently setting you up for trouble if they do not have rights to the actual song they are performing.
Careful – free CD’s and music is one thing, but never charge anyone to play their music on your radio station! You may do so only if you acknowledge the payment or gift on the air. Penalties for violating the payola law could land you in jail!
Broadcasting on The Internet Too? Now that’s another license! 🙁
Internet Licensing for Non-commercial stations
Stations are required to pay additional fees for Internet licensing to ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC along with fees to Sound Exchange/Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
For more information: https://www.soundexchange.com/rates.html
To webcast music you are required to file the following:
- Notice of Use from Copyright Office:
- Notice of Election from Sound Exchange:
- License from Sound Exchange:
- a. Select NEEs for stations licensed to educational institutions and LPFMs
- b. Select Other Noncomms for all other NCE stations
- c. Multiple streams means that you are webcasting different content on more than one stream.
Contact ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC for additional licensing agreements for webcasting.