Music licensing

Music licensing for internet radio

What music licences do you need in order to get an internet radio station or podcast that plays popular music up and running? Follow my journey in this podcast and learn more about the planning stages of an online radio station.

I’m hoping to have my online radio station broadcasting by the end of the year and over the past week I’ve been figuring out the correct licences that I’ll need to play mainstream music on the stream.

Feedback and Comments

Thank you to James Denmead, Rob Ellis, Ghost, Liam Sloan, Dave Thorpe and Geoff Wilding for your comments on last week’s episode. I talk about your views on this podcast episode and discuss the idea of internet broadcasting and playing music on your own radio station in more detail.

Love Listening to Podcasts?

This is a birthday present I recently received and I can tell you that, for me, it’s the best idea ever! The Plantronics M50 has become my 5th limb. I enjoy listening to podcasts and occasionally radio and now I can do it wirelessly as this bluetooth headset pairs seamlessly with my iPhone. Also, if you have Siri you can hold the earpiece and chat directly with him (or her). It’s the perfect birthday or Christmas present for anyone who loves listening to podcasts and audio books.

UK Music Licensing Authorities

If you’re setting up an internet radio station you definitely need both a PRS and PPL licence to play music. Here’s a paragraph on the subject from PPL’s website:

PPL collects royalties on behalf of performers and record companies, while PRS for Music collects royalties on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. When a business plays recorded music in public, in most instances a licence from both organisations is legally required.

PRS Licence

PRS Limited Online Music Licence

PRS Limited Online Music Licence

It’s very simple to apply for a limited online music licence for your broadcast needs. You click on to the PRS website and find the appropriate licence then after selecting ‘buy now’ just type in your card details and within minutes you’ll get an email with a pdf attachment that grants you the permission to provide a LOML (limited online music licence) service, subject to all the terms of PRS for Music.

PPL Licence

PPL require you to fill in the details of your application using an online web from and then you need to wait for them to manually approve your request for an online radio music licence. I’ve spoken to them on the phone and, from what I understand, they will be in touch in a matter of days once they’ve decided the correct licence bracket for me. I should receive something in the post to sign and return before I can begin broadcasting music.

Building a Music Library

If you already have your own vast music library you can start by copying the music to your hard drive and uploading to your internet radio host (providing you hold the correct licence to make a mechanical copy of the music you own). The biggest issue with importing music from a CD is retaining the id3 tags (or metadata) in the mp3 file with information like title, artist, album and even artwork. You usually need all this information for music reporting back to the music licensing authorities.

Thankfully there is an app for that! I’ve given TuneUp a try on some of my library and it is incredibly accurate. It scans parts of your mp3 files and uses Shazam style music recognition technology to add all the required id3 tags to your mp3 music library.

TuneUp

TuneUp

If you’re playing a specific style of music the best place I’ve discovered so far for sourcing music is Amazon MP3 – it’s so easy to use.

Prices are reasonable if you need to purchase a single track or even a bunch of tracks on an album. You can sort tracks related to a specific term of music genre by relevance or popularity (which is especially good when deciding what songs to rotate highly in your playlist). All the id3 tags come with each mp3 download and the files are yours to move around, copy and upload as oppose to some other solutions that have DRM (digital rights management) restrictions meaning you can’t play or copy the tracks elsewhere.

Bulk Podcast Promotion

A big shout out to Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting who was kind enough to mention my bulk podcast promotion (as he’s named it) that I did back in episode 14 of the Music Radio Creative podcast. If you’re interested in starting your own podcast do head over to the School of Podcasting and check out Dave’s up to date tutorials and advice for podcasters.

Music Licensing Process

If you have your own internet radio station and have already completed the music licensing process – wherever you are in the world – do please leave a comment and let me know your experience. Any advice or tips would be most welcome as it is one of the first hurdles to leap before you can really start creating your own internet radio station.

Coming up in Future Episodes

  • Using SEO (search engine optimization) to choose music for your radio station.
  • How to measure listener statistics and other interesting online radio analytics tools.
  • Getting a logo designed for your internet radio station.

If you provide one of the 3 services listed above contact me and I would be happy to consider featuring you on a future episode of the Music Radio Creative podcast.