Music Licensing may be something of a dry topic, but it is a big one for community radio. With the advent of streaming, the ins and outs of music rights have become more complicated. Have no fear! The following is a synopsis of attorney Melodie Virtue’s presentation for NFCB and LPRC’s webinar “the scoop on music licensing” that covers what you absolutely need to know. Powerpoint slides and a video recording of Melodie’s full presentation are available in the member area of NFCB’s website. Here’s the quick and dirty:
- Types of Copyrights in recorded songs: 1) musical work (notes and lyrics); 2) sound recording (the re-recording of a song counts here)
- Musical work public performance rights are administered by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC (these companies collect royalties on behalf of the owners of the musical work)
- Sound recording public performance rights are administered by SoundExchange (SX collects royalties on behalf of the owner of the sound recording, usually labels)
- Playing a song on air is considered a public performance. Stations pay royalties based on population coverage and format (music or news/talk)
- Federal copyright covers only sound recordings since February 1972
- There are some exemptions, but MOST stations must pay sound exchange fees
- Through a partnership with NPR and CPB, NFCB members can receive a discount on the cost of Sound Exchange. Check out the group buys page on our website for details.
Pandora, Rdio, Spotify
- Prevent broadcast because these services are not licensed to authorize other businesses to make public performances
- Specifically license personal non-commercial use unless special consent is provided, so DJ’s using their music library or subscription may be violating the terms of service
- Spotify allows “Brand Accounts,” which can be used for broadcast
- Copyright Act allows public broadcasting entities to reproduce and distribute programs containing musical work (notes, lyrics) solely for the purpose of allowing other NCE broadcast stations to broadcast the program (these copies must be destroyed within 7 days)
- Copyright Act allows copying in limited circumstances for a sound recording included in educational radio programs distributed by NCE stations so long as the program is not commercially distributed to the public
- Stations need direct licenses to: make back-ups of promotional CDs, burn songs from iTunes to put on a CD, create CDs to give away as premiums during fund drives
Questions? Review the full powerpoint and/or vide recording.
For perspective on what music licensing means vis and vis community radio, check out this post from Ernesto Aguilar, Program Director at KPFT in Houston.
Happy Halloween to all of you out there in radio land!