Copyright Law, Licensing, Tutorials

Internet Radio Licensing and Live365

Being a radio DJ or Station Manager can be a great gig. An enjoyable part of the job involves music -- finding new music, curating your favorite songs, and sharing them with your audience.

The part that’s not enjoyable?

Dealing with royalty payments and reporting requirements which actually allow you to play all the great music.

If your station isn’t solely a talk or sports station and you intend to play music, you need licensing. Licensing your station with the proper organizations allows you to legally stream music as well as make sure that artists are being compensated for their hard work.

In the internet radio world, there are two types of royalties covering four main music licensing agencies that you need to work with to be compliant with U.S. streaming.

Composition Royalties
Composition royalties cover melodies and lyrics. Think of it like sheet music -- the song as it appears on paper. Every time a song is played on your station, these organizations pay the songwriters and publishers. Three licensing bodies cover composition licensing:

ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and SESAC are three different U.S.  public performance organizations that collect royalties/licensing fees any time a musical composition is performed publicly by a business establishment -- in our case, internet radio stations. These organizations then take those license fees and pay the appropriate songwriters and publishers.

Sound Recording Royalties
Sound recording licensing covers digital recordings the music you can actually hear. A sound recording licensing organization will collect royalties each time a song rotates on your station.  The organization then pays whoever owns the sound recording -- usually a record label -- who will in turn pay the recording artists and production crews.

SoundExchange collects and distributes digital performance royalties any time a recording is digitally transmitted in a public place, like on an internet radio station.

Managing agreements and reporting to all of those agencies can often be confusing, daunting, and take up valuable resources and time.  Here’s where Live365 can help.

Our staff is comprised of licensing experts with decades of experience regarding streaming royalties. We can educate you and give advice on the best, personalized course of action for your station or network. Plus, we have a working relationship in place with the groups mentioned above so we can cover your station as well as take care of the sometimes onerous reporting and payment tasks.

Interested in learning how Live365 can help your station with licensing fees? Contact us at

Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended as legal advice. Please consult with qualified professionals if you have specific questions about copyrights and licensing.

Article image: Mark Solarski via Unsplash.

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About Sarah Osborne

  • Pennsylvania