One of the first things you may be asking yourself when starting an online radio station is whether or not you’ll need a music license. In this article we’ll explain in which cases you need a license for broadcasting, as well as where to get your license.

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to provide legal advice. We highly recommend that you consult the relevant licensing authorities in order to get more information regarding the license you need.

Do I need a music license? 

The general answer to this question is “it depends”… Depends on what, you may ask? Well, your need for licensing will mainly depend on what you want to broadcast, and where you want to broadcast to.

If you’re planning on broadcasting commercial music, you will indeed need a music license to cover the royalties required by the recording artist or record label. Most online radio stations cover themselves with a “blanket license“, also known as an “umbrella license”. These will cover your radio and allow you to broadcast copyrighted music. Most blanket licenses are paid annually and will vary in price depending on where you are broadcasting from and to.

Licensing also concerns royalty-free music. These licenses are generally cheaper as you only need to make a one-time payment which will give you lifetime rights to use the music. If you intend to broadcast copyright free music or just talk radio then a music license won’t be necessary.

Music licensing in the USA, UK & Canada

Licensing in the USA

There are 3 primary licensing bodies that offer statutory licenses in the USA. Statutory licenses are defined as radio broadcasts that are non-interactive, this refers to shows that cannot be skipped or when listeners can’t select their own music.

  • BMI: Broadcast Music Inc
  • ASCAP: American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers
  • SoundExchange: Independent nonprofit organisation that collects and distributes royalties from digital performances. It’s limited to transmissions over digital platforms which means that if you’re broadcasting your shows over the internet then SoundExchange will cover you.
Licensing in the UK

There are 2 main licensing bodies for the UK. Unlike licensing in the USA, UK licenses have one-time fees.

  • PPL: Phonographic Performance Limited
  • PRS for music: Performing Rights Society

If you’re planning on broadcasting music via an online radio station, then you will need licenses with both PRS and PPL. These are annual blanket licenses that cover your online broadcasts.

Licensing in Canada
  • SOCAN: Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada

The license fees that broadcasters pay to SOCAN, whether it’s via cue sheets for individual music performances or blanket licenses for all music performances within a given time period, compensate songwriters, composers and music publishers that make up SOCAN.

Note: You’ll find a list of licensing authorities for other countries at the end of this article.

What is geo-protection and how can I use it?

RadioKing offers you the possibility of choosing which countries can or cannot access your radio station thanks to the geo-protection feature. This feature can help protect you from any legal issues if your music license doesn’t cover specific countries.

Simply head over to Settings > Security in your Radio Manager to activate the option and select the countries you want to allow or block:


  • Do I need a license for my talk show?

    If there is no copyright music at all during your show, then you won’t need a license to broadcast online.
  • What if my listeners are outside of the country I broadcast from?

    You’ll need to check the licence you already have to see if it covers the countries you intend to broadcast to. If it doesn’t, we suggest that you contact the relevant music authorities in the countries you’re listeners are in to see what licences you will need.
  • Does RadioKing provide a music license?

    No, RadioKing does not provide broadcasting rights. We simply host your radio station and allow you to stream online to anyone with an Internet connection.
  • Do I need a license to use royalty free music?

    Yes, if you want to broadcast royalty free music you’ll need to pay a one-time licence fee. This will provide you with the rights to play the music wherever you want, as many times as you want without additional costs!

Licensing bodies in different countries

Australia: PPCA
Argentina:  SADAIC
Belgium: SABAM
Dominican RepublicSGACEDOM
LuxembourgSACEM Luxembourg
New ZealandAPRA
Philippines: FILSCAP
Switzerland: SUISA
United Arab Emirates
West AfricaMOICI

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