Music Royalties
February 25, 2019 3:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to understand how much terrestrial vs. online stations pay for music licensing companies to play their music. If I understand the Copyright Royalty Board (and I may not), it has a formula that says, over air broadcasts cost non commercial stations not affiliated with a college or university $1 in royalties per play.

Those that have more than 20,000 students will eventually pay those companies more than $900 per play by 2023. I must have that wrong. Is that possible? No college station could ever play any commercial music if that was the case. Meanwhile, they also have to adhere to something called "Aggregated Tuning Hours" which seems to be the total amount of time listeners can listen to licensed music. They get up to 160,000 ATHs a month and if they go over, they pay the dollar a day rate. Is there a clear explanation of how much online and on air stations pay for music licensed by BMI, SESAC and ASCAP? Or is this it?
posted by CollectiveMind to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
As I understand it, the costs for ASCAP and BMI for a non-commercial educational broadcast station would be $983 (each) total, not per play. See the Federal Register from January 29, 2018, and this story from Broadcast Law Blog.

This post talks about streaming and non-commercial webcasters and rates. - I think this is relevant: "SoundExchange charges “Noncommercial Webcasters” a flat rate of $500, but it also charges additional per performance fees for all transmissions over 159,140 Aggregate Tuning Hours (ATH) per month. One (1) ATH is one (1) person listening to your station online for one (1) hour. If two (2) people listen to your station online for thirty (30) minutes, that is also one (1) ATH, and if six (6) people listen for twenty (20) minutes, that is two (2) ATHs."

According to the SoundExchange site, Noncommercial Webcasters must pay $0.0018 per excess performance. Since we've switched from "ATH" to "performance" I'm unclear on what constitutes a "performance" vs. an aggregate tuning hour.

I'm also uncertain what steps non-commercial broadcasters, like universities, take to limit access to try to keep listenership below the 159K ATHs. (Or if that's a problem that many of them face.)
posted by jzb at 4:36 PM on February 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, and for commercial streaming stations like Spotify, Pandora - I believe they have worked out licensing deals directly with rights holders rather than paying the fees set forth by the CRB. This article, for example, complains that Spotify only pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights, and that "1 million plays on Spotify translates to around $7,000, and one million plays on Pandora generates $1,650."

According to I average ~50 songs per day, probably 1/2 to 2/3rd of it being on Spotify. Which means if I am calculating correctly and if Spotify pays at the high end of the royalty rates for the music I listen to, they're possibly losing money on me after figuring in hosting and bandwidth...
posted by jzb at 4:43 PM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

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