One of the more important aspects of running an Internet radio station – and an often overlooked one – is licensing your station.
You can get into some very serious financial trouble if you stream content that is not yours. For example, streaming songs created by music artists. More must think: These musicians worked hard to create their music and they do not want it just given away. They rightly deserve to get paid royalties for their creations.
Back-in-the-day licensing was a pain in the butt and a very expensive venture. You had the personal responsibility comply with the regulations of rules of each of the four performance-music-rights organizations ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, & SoundExchange. That meant creating an account with each organization, making sure your station was in compliance with their regulations, and paying your dues to each one.
Each of these organizations are made up of and managed by y songwriters, musicians, composers, and music publishers. They get paid their royalties through them. Any radio station operator found playing content without a license were subject to heavy fines and lawsuits. As of to-date, they are being ever so vigilant in finding stations operating illegally and filing lawsuits against them. I do not know about you, but I would have a difficult time relaxing or sleeping at night operating an unlicensed station. Sadly, there are stations out there who do so believing that they will never get caught. How foolish is that? Major terrestrial stations in the USA simply fell off the grid in one night. Why? Because they were not licensed.
The good news is that it has become easier to license your Internet station. How? Through a company called Stream Licensing.
By paying as little as $59.50/month, Stream Licensing will handle all of your licensing fees to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, & SoundExchange. All you have to do is file your reports each month on the Stream Licensing website (it is easy and only takes a minute) and make your monthly payment.
As your station grows (larger listener-base), you will be charged a higher monthly fee.
Steaming Licensing provides you will all of the instructions you need to follow in order to make your station’s website legal through their platform. (In most cases it is a matter of copying and pasting a piece of code on your website).
Stream Licensing will give you a banner (code) that you can paste on your website so anyone visiting (or snooping) and click on it and see that you are licensed.
With all of this said, please do not operate an Internet radio station without a license.
I would like to see stream host providers emphasize the importance of licensing when you sign up with them but they don’t.
In the next article, I will discuss setting up your website.