SoundExchange 101

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SoundExchange 101

NFCB Member Station SoundExchange Participation Information (rev. 8/2018)

SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization (PRO) that collects and distributes royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners and artists for non-interactive digital transmissions. ​Any qualified public broadcasting station that has a terrestrial signal and is streaming music online must provide music use reports to SoundExchange as established by Congress in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

NPR and CPB have an agreement with SoundExchange that defines the terms, conditions, and reporting obligations for public broadcasters to provide sound recordings over the Internet. The terms of the CPB-SoundExchange Webcasting Agreement specify that CPB pays the royalty fees on behalf of:

  • CPB CSG qualified stations
  • NPR member stations
  • NFCB member stations

The above indicated stations can participate in the agreement, unless they are ​I​nternet-only stations. In that case, this agreement does not cover them.

NPR full member stations’ SoundExchange reporting fees are covered by NPR. NPR non-member stations that do not have a signed MSA (Master Service Agreement) must pay the SoundExchange reporting fee to NFCB to participate in this agreement. If there is any question about a station’s NPR member status, NPR Digital Services will verify if a station’s reporting fees are covered by NPR.

CPB CSG qualified stations must pay the SoundExchange reporting fee to NFCB through this agreement, as CPB discontinued funding for reporting in 2012.

If your station is a current NFCB member and has a terrestrial broadcast signal, in addition to a webcast, you have the option to participate in this agreement. Below are the steps you must take to make that happen.

The CPB-SoundExchange Webcasting Agreement identifies NPR Digital Services as the sole organization which submits music use reports to SoundExchange on behalf of the public radio system, including NFCB members who elect to have their digital music royalty fees paid by CPB. The agreement defines the type and format of reports stations must submit to NPR Digital Services. This includes an obligation on the part of stations to provide quarterly data to NPR Digital Services on usage of their Internet stream and accurate playlists of sound recordings played online. Reporting data provides SoundExchange with the information it needs to make payments to artists and labels.

The cost of reporting for NPR full member stations is covered through their NPR membership dues. NPR non-member stations, non-NPR stations and CPB CSG qualified stations that are NFCB members can take advantage of special pricing for reporting by enrolling in NFCB’s SoundExchange program and paying an annual fee of $275 to NFCB. This fee covers the costs of NPR Digital Services’ preparation and submission of the system-wide reports to SoundExchange. These reporting fees should not be confused with digital music royalty fees, which CPB pays relative to this agreement.

If your station wants to enroll in SoundExchange reporting via NPR Digital Services under the special pricing arranged through NFCB, please follow the steps in the order indicated, below:

  1. Get in touch with NFCB to establish eligibility (your station’s NFCB membership must be current).
  2. Pay the annual fee of $275 to NFCB (NFCB will send an invoice).
  3. Register as an eligible station with CPB via: (Click on the “Register your organization” link at the bottom of the first paragraph on the Music Rights page).
  4. Once you have registered with CPB, they will send you login information.
  5. Log in to CPB’s Music Rights site ( click on the green Log in box at the top of the page), review SoundExchange reporting guidelines, opt-in to be covered by the agreement.
  6. At the beginning of each new quarter, NPR Digital Services will contact stations that have newly opted in with CPB (see #5 above) and provide credentials and instructions for reporting. [Please note: This step has changed recently, so the previous requirement to register directly with NPR Digital Services is no longer accurate; if you use the link about SoundExchange reporting basics in #7 below, you will see that there are instructions to register with NPR, but the link on that page is broken.]
  7. Provide quarterly reports to NPR Digital Services. For tips on reporting basics, please see:

How it works on our end:

  1. CPB provides a list to NFCB of registered stations that are participating in the CPB-SoundExchange Webcasting Agreement.
  2. CPB pays the digital music royalty fees for stations covered by the CPB-SoundExchange Webcasting Agreement.
  3. NPR Digital Services collects, prepares and submits a system-wide report of covered stations’ streaming music usage reports to SoundExchange.
  4. NPR bills NFCB for all eligible NFCB members that are not NPR full member stations for the reporting services performed by NPR Digital Services.

NFCB is happy to help stations navigate requirements and reporting tools.

Feel free to contact with any questions.

This information is provided by the National Federation of Community Broadcasters

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