the business side of internet radio blanket license

Tune In, Pay Up: The Business Side of Internet Radio Blanket Licenses

In this era, the internet has completely transformed how we access and enjoy music. One of the ways to listen to music online is through internet radio. With an abundance of stations available at our fingertips, we can effortlessly tune in to any genre or artist that piques our interest. Have you ever pondered over the aspects behind this vast array of music choices? How do these internet radio stations avoid copyright issues and ensure that artists receive compensation for their creative work? The answer lies in a concept known as “blanket licenses.” Let’s delve into the realm of blanket licenses and explore how they shape the business side of Internet radio.

Understanding Blanket Licenses

When an internet radio station intends to play copyrighted music, it must obtain permission from the copyright holders ( record labels or music publishers). However, by engaging in negotiations with each rights holder – a process that could be laborious and expensive – a blanket license for internet radio stations can be acquired from a performance rights organization (PRO).

A PRO is an organization that represents songwriters, composers, and publishers by licensing their performances and collecting royalties on their behalf. These PROs have established agreements with copyright holders to simplify the licensing procedures across platforms, like radio, television live events, and more.

How Blanket Licensing Works

When an internet radio station obtains a blanket license from a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) it typically covers all the music within that organization’s catalog. The term “repertoire” refers to the collection of songs represented by the PRO. This means that as long as the station follows guidelines set by the PRO, such as reporting the songs played they have legal permission to play any song from that list publicly.

The Cost Aspect

Now, let’s discuss how Internet radio stations pay for these blanket licenses. Most PROs determine licensing fees based on factors, including station revenue (in cases), audience size, and monthly listening hours. As an internet radio station gains success, they may have to pay licensing fees.

These fees differ among PROs and are negotiated between the stations and each respective PRO. In some cases of negotiating licensing agreements with each PRO, a station may choose to work with a third-party licensing service that simplifies the process.

Distribution of Royalties

Once internet radio stations pay these licensing fees, how are royalties distributed to artists? PROs employ formulas that consider factors to ensure fair distribution of royalties.

These formulas consider factors like the popularity of a song (based on its streaming data), the distribution channels used (including internet radio), and the revenue generated from subscriptions.

It is crucial for artists and copyright holders to register their works with Performing Rights Organizations (PROs). This ensures that they receive their share of royalties earned from internet radio plays. By doing so, artists guarantee that their music is properly accounted for in calculations.

The Significance of Reporting

Reporting which songs were played allows PROs to distribute royalties accurately. Internet radio stations often need to provide reports stating the songs that were broadcasted and the specific time periods they were played. This information helps PROs collect data about listener habits and determine royalty payments based on usage.

Platforms for Music Discovery

In addition to blanket licenses, another important aspect influencing the business side of Internet radio is partnerships between services like subscription-based streaming platforms and traditional AM/FM radio stations. These collaborations enable stations to reach audiences by offering online streams alongside their terrestrial broadcasts without facing additional licensing challenges.

These partnerships bridge the gap between on-air programming and digital audio streams while ensuring compensation for artists under existing blanket licenses held by the partnering services or organizations involved. This collaboration mutually benefits both parties by increasing exposure and revenue opportunities, all while staying compliant with copyright regulations.


The advent of Internet radio has revolutionized the way we enjoy music, granting us access to an array of genres and artists with a click. However, behind this convenience lies a tightly regulated system that ensures compensation for copyright holders through blanket licenses. These licenses, overseen by PROs (Performance Rights Organizations) enable internet radio stations to broadcast songs without the need for negotiations with each artist or rights holder.

By adhering to the guidelines established by PROs, these stations can continue bringing music into our lives while supporting the artists who create it. So, the time you tune in to your channel on an internet radio station, remember the business aspect involved: blanket licenses that keep the music flowing and ensure a fair exchange for everyone involved.

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