licensing fees are a necessary operating expense overlooked by many low power
would be impossible for song writers and performers to individually collect
royalty and copyright payments from broadcasters and others using music.
This problem has been solved by the three major music licensing
organizations: the American Society of Composers, Artists, and Composers; Broadcast Music
Incorporated; and the Society European
Composers, Artists, Publisher collectively represent the majority of
professional musicians in the United States.
Blanket annual license fees solve the time consuming job of tracking and
reporting each individual song placed.
ASCAP - One Lincoln Plaza, NY 10023
– 10 Music Square East; Nashville, TN 37203-4399
SESAC – 55 Music Square East; Nashville, TN 37203
soon as you sign-on your station, have each organization send you their
Concentrate on the portion related to blanket fees for LPFM stations.
(Annual fees for major market commercial stations are greater than the
cost for all equipment for your
Payment of the annual fee is pro rated based on the number of months left
in the year at the time.
stations get music from many sources – free CDs and tapes from famous and
Normally the artist wants air play, not a check from you!
You might buy music at a store, download from the Internet, or people
might give the station music from their personal collection.
Always check the music label to see if it is licensed or check the artist
databases from the Big Three, updated weekly.
Any time you use unlicensed music it is wise to contact the artist.
If your station has a web site (it should) you can offer to give their
contact information on your site and a hyperlink to their site.
On the other hand, if someone pays you (cash or gifts) to play anything,
you must acknowledge this with on-air
“underwriting announcements” or you could go to jail for violating the
To Request Current Music Licensing Procedures and Fees contact:
Question: Are current LPFM music licensing fees based on negotiations by LPFM
A station is responsible for obtaining broadcast rights for music not represented by the Big 3. Most of the contracts we have were very simple, the publishers/composers/artists just simply want to be asked so that they can put your station on the promotional material mailing list and to keep track of what stations they are on. One particular artist that we have a contract with only wants his music on independent NCE stations. The Big 3 don't do this - they make a title available to all stations.
It depends on if the music is owned or
copyrighted. If the song book you are using is a typical hymnal there is
probably tons of expired and non-copywright
Question: Should LPFMs stations attempt local "market based" negotiations?
Answer (Randy Dunn): I was first taught to negotiate with these guys by a big manager in Clear-Channel communications. He owned radio stations on his own and also negotiated for Clear-Channel in a few medium markets. His entire concept was to push them right up to their limit. It actually worked with the commercial FM I was involved with in the 1980's. They tried to collect $2500 per year (ASCAP) for three years we were on the air and ignored them; when we sold the station our lawyer wrote a check and wrote a "contract" on the back where they endorse it stating that we were paid in full by endorsing and cashing this check. The check was for $500.00, we never heard from ASCAP again and BMI didn't get anything.
We never even heard from SESAC. My friend with clear-channel's opinion of SESAC was that they have a few Christmas songs---so what, let them sue you over playing ten of their songs--the judge won't be very happy. I am NOT saying to do this, but I think that negotiation is a good way to go.
Yes, you are right FM stations may reach more than 1000 people, but here is how I arrived at this figure, and when you are dealing with ASCAP do NOT brag on the number of listeners you have. Moan and groan about the LACK of listeners you have. A radio station that is low power covers a town with a population around 30,000 or so with a grade-A signal. It will reach out further than that, but use the calculated numbers. Now, let's take a town that has 7 commercial stations in town and 5 more coming in from a bigger town. Now we split our 30,000 up among 12 stations and 1 LPFM. Do you see where I'm going with this? It is NOT to make an LPFM station feel bad about its number of listeners, but it is about negotiating.
Also, the listeners you do have do NOT listen all the time, they may listen for twenty minutes as they drive to work. They aren't going to listen very long in a car without running out of coverage area unless they are doing errands inside the Grade-A signal area. So, easily we can say this station has less than 1000 listeners at any one moment in time and may only have 50 or less after midnight. Potentially, you do reach 30,000 folks, but you can bet that all thirty thousand are not tuned in to your station at the same time 24/7 or even for one single hour in a 24 hour day during your highest rated period. Even if your coverage should cover 100,000 folks, then potentially there will be more stations competing which may even hurt you more than in a smaller town where there is little competition.
Not only are you competing with the other FM's and AM's in town and around town you are also competing with CD's and cassette players and NOW satellite radio. Plus, many of those just never turn on their radio period. I'm simply doing this exercise to show how you can show BMI and ASCAP --- "why should I pay you $200 bucks a year when your charging the 100,000 watt station across town $2000.00 a year -- which is a realistic price for a small market class C who has negotiated their fee somewhat." Just an idea -- think about it!