Broadcasters streaming music on the Internet have until February 2, 2015, according to SoundExchange, to pay the $500 annual minimum fee per station or channel due to SoundExchange. The statutory license fee is paid to SoundExchange for the right to publicly perform sound recordings on the Internet and is in addition to fees paid to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC that compensate the copyright holder of the musical composition and cover the right to publicly perform the musical work.
The $500 minimum payment does not relieve broadcasters of the duty to pay fees that accrue in excess of the minimum. The fee for each “performance” (the streaming of one sound recording to one listener) payable by commercial broadcasters is $0.0025 in 2015 (up from $0.0023 in 2014). The minimum is credited against the first $500 in per performance fees owed. Noncommercial broadcasters are subject to separate payment obligations.
The $500 minimum payment does not relieve broadcasters of their reporting obligations to SoundExchange – which include Reports of Use (identifying the sound recordings performed) and Statements of Account (reporting broadcasters’ payment obligations). “Small Broadcasters” are provided some relief and can pay an additional $100 per station or channel to waive the obligation to submit Reports of Use. To qualify as a small broadcaster, the online listenership must be fewer than 27,777 aggregate tuning hours (“ATH”) annually, the equivalent of about 76 listeners, each listening one hour per day, or 38 listeners, each listening two hours per day. Small broadcasters must elect small broadcaster status by February 2, 2015. Noncommercial broadcasters may also be able to avoid filing some or all Reports of Use, depending on their ATH, if they are noncommercial educational webcasters or if they are paying under the noncommercial webcaster agreement negotiated pursuant to the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009.
The current rates and terms will expire at the end of the year. A proceeding is ongoing to set rates and terms for 2016-2020. Those rates and terms will be announced by mid-December of this year.