Careful Way to Stream Music Without a Music License

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Careful Way to Stream Music Without a Music License

Following long periods of inactivity my brain all at once regurgitated this idea:

Maybe the way for a streaming station that has no music license to legally play some music on rare occassion might be this...

During a time while no listeners are connected to the server, which for my station is most of the time, one could slip in some music and watch the server activity window very closely.

Upon the first sign of a listener connecting, one would switch away from the music and play talk material which requires no license.

It would be like a form of safe sex.


If no one is listening does it become legal?




Legality According to a Guesser

As private individuals we can listen to our own CDs and mp3 files as well as anything offered on line.

I think it's only when we have an "audience", such as workers in a business, customers in a public shop or listeners online that we become responsible for paying royalties.

If we stream to no audience things might be o.k. until someone "connects".

Carl Blare

Broadcasters already do this

This is exactly what any broadcaster who is feeding their transmitter with a private stream, such as a Barix box, etc. Secure, non-public streams do not require a license for music.  neither do STL systems such as microwave, VHF and UHF systems. Even thought it might be possible for the person in the right physical location with the right receiver, to be able to listen to an STL.  Of course, the end use, broadcasting in the AM or FM band, does require a license, it is not required for the link.  I imagine even if that link went nowhere, it would still be legal. 

However, if you're broadcast is meant for the public, and no one listens, I believe you're still on the hook.  Take for example a childs dance recital.  Maybe 30 acts, 30 songs.  License fees must be paid based on theatre capacity. A theatre that holds 100 pays less than one that holds 1000.  And ticket price used to be figured in as well. if no one shows up, the license fee is the same, based on potential attendees.   Commercial radio licenses are based on market size and revenue.  If no one is listening, the rate stays the same as the number of POTENTIAL listeners is there.  Which is interesting when it comes to streaming, as the rate is based on number of listeners and with streaming software, etc it's possible to determine exactly how many people are listening at any given time, and hence determine the rate for one particulat song paid at a given moment. This is all part of the new complex data crunching done when streaming rates are determined. 


This Just In....

Late yesterday, SESAC lost to commercial radio stations.  And they lost a ton of money.  Arbitration between SESAC and the Radio Music Licensing Committee (which represents something like 95% of commercial radio stations in America) resulted in SESAC having to change its licensing rate card, which had been based on a combination of population within a radio station's coverage area, and that station's highest 60 second ad rate.  SESAC will now have to conform to the standards set forth previously by the courts for ASCAP and BMI, which determines a radio station's rate based on a percentage of its gross billing.  This'll figure out to about a 60% loss of revenue for SESAC... from commercial radio stations.

Life Is Even More Unfair Than It Is

Very disappointed in the way corporate types think when it comes to Tim's report that streamers are billed based on POTENTIAL listeners. This is flagrantly unreasonable.

Another thing that's illogical is the notion that listeners want to hear what is being sent. Some of them might be "putting up with" the music while they wait for the news.

On one thing I disagree with Tim: "With streaming software, etc it's possible to determine exactly how many people are listening at any given time."

That's not accurate at all... "connections" may be Russian hackers searching for a door into the sytem to relay secret code; they are sometimes "bots" from China spider crawling around seeking data; they might be royalty police sniffing for violators, and that is NOT a welcome "listener" whatsoever.

I'm going to join a monastary and get away from all the worldly nonsense.

Carl Blare

Carl said:

"Another thing that's illogical is the notion that listeners want to hear what is being sent. Some of them might be "putting up with" the music while they wait for the news."

A talk show host said on a talk station here in Toronto you can hate me or like me, if you are tuned to this station you are a listener and I stay on the air.

Even if someone else has a station on and I am in the vicinity and hear it and am aware of what is playing.....doesn't matter if I want to hear it or not....I am a listener.

I can turn on a TV station just before a program starts and have to bear with a commercial. If I am watching even against my will the company got the message across....I was watching.




Unequal Deal

Seems like we don't get what we pay for.

Carl Blare

This Is Not the Actual Broadcast

I'm phoning in from the monastary... I haven't signed on the dotted line yet, I have another idea first:

Royalties aren't charged for rehearsals before an empty house, so I say a streaming station with no listeners could play fine music during a rehearsal and follow it with the message: "This has been a rehearsal closed to the public. The actual broadcast will not be streamed for licensing reasons."

Gee  whiz.

Carl Blare


A closed rehearsal place is just that.....not available to the public but streaming is open to the public and anyone can listen, even if no one is, at the moment. It is not "closed" to anyone hearing it.

How can it be a rehearsal closed to the public if it's on line and anyone can tune in.



Carl said: "Seems like we don

Carl said: "Seems like we don't get what we pay for."

We don't pay anything for the right to broadcast Part 15, so we get more than what we paid for (or rather didn't).. but you may have to pay for the product you broadcast -depending on what it is.

Athough I consider it clear that part 15 is just as required to pay royaties as a pubic jukebox would be, I think most hobbyyst can and do avoid doing it.. I only say that because I've never heard of anyone getting popped for it. But if your station has a strong following or being run in any relnm of business sense, then it would be silly not to pay the music royalties.

Rich Powers Part15, Take 2..

I have connections right here for Carl

Druid Hills Radio AM-1710- Dade City, FL. Unlicensed operation authorized by the Part 15 Department of the FCC and our Resident Hobby Agent.  

Druid, that's like Carls hell

Druid, that's like Carls hell, and they dont appear to have a transmitter..

Rich Powers Part15, Take 2..

No No Wait

I could go for the St. Leo Abbey and would enjoy the black robes and fine architecture.

It could be me that brings radio to the Abbey!

Many non-believers enter religious life.

Carl Blare

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