Online Radio Streaming Challenges, Issues and Roadblocks
ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are some of the big names when it comes to the Music industry and its regulatory system. I will share with you how to know about such organizations and my personal experience in creating an online radio station. I had been fond of radios, since I was a teenager. Fascinated with the F.M. frequency and the wireless technologies in general. Since the introduction of the internet, online radio streaming had been a privilege to big organizations because it was costly and required high-speed internet connections to allow for the hundreds or thousands of listeners to get connected. Because of cloud computing and advances in technology, music streaming became cheap and available for almost anyone. Many hosting companies today offer the technology of streaming music for few dollars a month. When I read the Advertisement for how cheap it was to create an online radio, I felt that my dream is finally coming true.
Since I always do my research before jumping into anything, I decided to do just that. Within few days, I understood and learned the reality of how things work in this field. The companies mentioned above (ASCAP, SESAC and BMI) have monopoly over the music industry. They will not allow a single song under their radar to play online without collecting royalties on it. The price to pay is high, and the restrictions imposed are too harsh, making it impossible for an amateur like me to get into this business.
ASCAP, SESAC and BMI require you to maintain an inventory and logs of every single track played. The other restriction is that they will not allow you to play a particular song for more than 3 times within a week. You would also need to monitor the number of listeners and the particular songs they listened to. At the end of every month, you would need to report all that alongside your payment for music royalties. To make things even harder, these institutions require you to report specific details about your business operations, advertising revenue and many other criteria. I was completely dramatized and decided to abandon this idea all together. This was not the end of the story, after doing more research, I discovered later few ideas which made my dream a reality.
I decided to create a radio station that plays instrumental relaxing music. Music that students can listen to while studying. Music that can be played anytime during any sort of event, for meditation, focus, relaxation…etc.
My first solution was to use music that has become in the Public domain. These are the music tracks of famous classical artists that have passed away many years ago and their music have become free for use. Unfortunately most of such music is converted from Vinyl records and the quality of audio is not appealing.
My second solution was to purchase Royalty Free Music. These are music tracks which you would pay for once and use many times with no restrictions on use.
My third solution was to contact artists who have placed their music as part of the Creative Commons library. This approach does not require you to contact the artist directly and ask for permission. However, I still contacted artists and asked their permission to play their music in return for giving them credit on my radio website.
I believe that I have done the best I could to tackle the issues related to streaming music in a legal way. Giving credit to artists who have been generous in sharing their creative work with. My radio is still running and I have a couple of hundred followers who enjoy the music I stream daily.
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