Total posts : 45366
Tim has accurately described the ins and outs of licensing for the U.S.
I just want to note that copyright law and the agencies that handle licensing differ considerably outside of the U.S. (which is probably the most draconian of all). For example, in Canada, which is where I’m located, there is only one agency to deal with – SOCAN – which handles both over the air and streaming. And there is a lot of music in the public domain here, even more in Europe (although they’re changing the laws as I type this to come more into line with the U.S. – this was prompted by the falling into public domain of the first Beatles single).