WWW FAQs: How do I legally broadcast copyrighted music on the Internet?


2007-03-09: OK, so sharing playlists on iTunes and Rhapsody isn't enough for you. You have your own audio files you're excited about, perhaps including some DJ commentary of your own, and you want to share those with the world. But you don't own the legal rights to the music. How do you share it with the world legally?

Live365.Com is currently the best answer. You can upload your music to them, and they broadcast it to your listeners. Live365 works together with the major music copyright-holding organizations, like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange, to make sure your broadcasts are legal.

"But I don't want to use Live365! I want to do it all myself!"

You want to run your own Internet radio station on your own site, keep all the advertising revenue, and use your own code. Sounds like fun, doesn't it.

Trouble is, it's very expensive and very difficult. ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange all have different licensing requirements. And there are substantial minimum royalty payments involved. But yes, it is possible. And for nonprofit organizations (such as churches and schools), it may even be practical, due to special rates offered only to those organizations. And of course you may be a serious investor with deep pockets who laughs at minimum royalty payments.

Far be it from me to stand in your way! Those who are serious about 100% do-it-yourself webcasting should check out my article How do I get the rights to play copyrighted music on my Internet radio station?

Live365 offers quite a few options, ranging from the personal to the professional, at several different audio quality levels. You can try the service for free, but there is a monthly fee to continue broadcasting. The fee depends on the quality of service you require. However, they also offer the possibility of earning some money from your station by sharing in advertising revenue.

While broadcasting via Live365 isn't free, listening to Live365 is free. And that means you can have a much larger audience.
High-profile Live365 stations have included Philadelphia's Y100Rocks, an on-air commercial station that went to the Internet when their corporate backers deserted them. Y100Rocks was successful enough on the web that they have now moved back to the radio as part of WXPN.

Live365 is a good solution for broadcasting other people's music. But what about your own stuff? If you want to broadcast your own music you can do it on your own website and keep complete control. For more information, see the article How do I broadcast my own prerecorded music or talk show on the Internet?

Legal Note: yes, you may use sample HTML, Javascript, PHP and other code presented above in your own projects. You may not reproduce large portions of the text of the article without our express permission.

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