Total posts : 45366
Yes, you certainly can fire up a Part 15 transmitter and feed it and a web stream with the same programming. You just have to meet the technical requirements to make sure your transitter/installation is legal, and you need no special broadcast license for streaming.
However, if you’re playing music, you need the rights to broadcast it, both on the web and in the air. Many will argue that music licensing is not necessary for Part 15 radio. Well, it is. If ALL you do is broadcast Part 15 radio, you may get away with not licensing it forever. Or you may not. It does not matter is you sell advertising or not, music used for public performance must pay the PRO (performing rights organizations) and if you’re making money at it is NOT a factor. BMI has a form for rights for Part 15 stationson their website. ASCAP does not, and never replied to my two inquirings when I started. I saved copies of my correspondence proving that I TRIED to pay them, and they refused me. I believe SESAC has an exemption available for Part 15. Again, on the radio ONLY, you may never get caught. if you DO the fines can ben in the tens of thousands of dollars. You take your own risk. If you STREAM, you ALSO must pay the PRO’s AND Soundscan — the Pro’s only pay writers of the songs, and this is all radio is required to so, STREAMERS also have to pay the performers, and this is handled through Soundscan. If you opt to stream I would highly recomment one of the MANY streaming services that can handle it for you, and yes they will charge you $$, but the package deal will include the necessary music rights. The odds of getting caught streaming music without a license is MUCH higher than getting caught broadcasting it on a Part 15 station.
As for Public Domain music — that woujld be music, in the USA anyway, published BEFORE 1922. Nothing else is PD. And a key element to remember here, is even though the SONG may be older than that, the PERFORMANCE won’t be, unless you’re playing a record made before 1922, and even then it may NOT be PD. So there is little recorded music that is actually free to use. Yes, there is Creative Commons and there’s a lot of CC music out there, and the copyright owners will have varying rights assigned to their music, but yes, CC music does exist that you can use.
So, you don’t need a BROADCAST license for Part 15, OR streaming. BUt if you want to stream copyrighted music you need a performance rights license for the music. Same thing for radio programs, any other audio that exists that you might want to broadcast or stream. Unless you wrote and and created it, someone else owns the copyright. Becareful what you stream without the paperwork in order.
Yes, the PRO’s will need to license it to someone. A real person with a name and address. You can license it to a corporation, but it’s not worth the cost to form a corporation. If you operate your station as a business or legal non-profit, you can license it to that entity but that’s a lot of paperwork and expense.
I can’t remember the BMI license fee, but it was around $125 for a year. As I said, ASCAP ignored my attempts to give them money, and SESAC has an exemption. BTW, BMI also has a low cost streaming license for Part 15 streamers now, too. Cheaper than what a regular station pays for streaming. But you really need a package deal for streaming that covers it all. Google is your friend. Look at the many streaming services that make it pretty easy to do legally.
I now most of the ins and outs (and what people try to get away with) with over 40 years in commercial radio, and 10+ years as owner of a small music publishing company and record label, plus my now 8 month old and rather successful part 15 station (I don’t stream). I’ve been around the block several times with all this stuff.
BTW, I’m working on what is now turning out to be a small book on radio programming, with an emphasis on Part 15.
Tim in Bovey
Iron Range Country Radio