Will Robedee, CBI Executive Director
SoundExchange (SX) webcasting fees are due by February 1, 2016. The fees for 2016-2020 are the result of negotiations by CBI and SoundExchange and they have not changed. The minimum annual (January 1 – December 31) fee is $500. Chances are you will not owe any additional fees. Only stations with large audiences (an average of ~200+ concurrent listeners 24/7) will need to concern themselves with additional fees.
If you are just getting started with putting your radio/webcast operations on-line, please see our primer. Likewise, the primer will provide you with the information you need if you have been webcasting copyrighted music and have not been paying SoundExchange. If you need help, contact CBI.
Recordkeeping and Reporting
For 2016 – 2020, you may still choose to use the reporting proxy by paying an additional $100 in most situations. For 2011-2015, stations were eligible for the proxy if their average concurrent listener levels were below ~75 listeners (55,000 monthly Aggregate Tuning Hours (“ATH”)). For 2016 stations may have up to ~100 average concurrent listeners (80,000 monthly ATH).
If you exceed the 80,000 ATH in any month, but do not exceed roughly 200+ average concurrent listeners (159,140 ATH) you will need to start submitting reporting samples. This is a log of the songs you play with artist, song, album, label and spins data. If you exceed 159,140 ATH, you will need to submit “census” (24/7/365) reports. If you fall into to either of these you will not need to report ATH or ATP (Actual Total Performances). The only exception to the lack of ATH data reporting requirement is if the station exceeds the 159,140 “cap” at least once in two consecutive years.
Potential Issue ISRC
In May of 2014 the Copyright Office issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) which would require webcasters to submit ISRCs in reports of use. The ISRC is supposedly a unique identifier embedded in each digital sound recording. Not all identifiers are unique because the database is flawed and it is up to the end master recorder to input the identifier into the recorded meta data. Further, the ability to pull that data from recordings is not common in most student station work flows and many stations are not fully automated and many still use analog recordings. CBI and many of its members filed comments in the proceeding on this and other issues important to them. We suspect we will know the outcome of that proceeding at or nearly the same time this month. Perhaps in just a few days. If the ISRC requirement and other proposed requirements are enacted, we will report it on the blog and on the website. Note that if these changes are enacted, they will have an immediate impact on stations which choose to use the reporting proxy. For that reason alone, I would suggest that if you decide to pay before the decision is announced and you are eligible for the proxy, you opt to use it and pay the fee.
Paying the Fee(s) and Reporting Options
Paying the fee can, as normal, be accomplished by completing the SoundExchange form. This form also allows you to select the reporting proxy and pay the associated $100 fee, if you are eligible. New for 2016, is an option to pay on-line (finally). SoundExchange has established a payment and reporting portal. I had to contact SX to have them change the email address associated with the station account.
I found the portal to be a bit clunky. To pay your 2016 fees, you will need to setup up your account and users in the Update your users section. Then you will need to click on manage your accounts. Then you will need to click on 2016, your station call letters, and then click on Noncommercial Educational Webcaster Service.
A part of the payment process requires you to certify that the station/service will comply with the regulations. When I tested the site, the certification page included a requirement to certify that the station agreed to the wrong part of the regulations (37 CFR 380 subpart B and not 37 CFR 380 subpart C). Subpart B is for non-student webcasters.
I contacted SX about this issue and they are working to update the site to address this problem. As such, I cannot report on how the process works from that point forward. I will report updates via the CBI email list.
Some additional notes concerning the portal. If you are changing your status in any way, such as opting to use the proxy when you previously have not, you will need to contact SX in order to update the information. You cannot make that change in the portal. If you are just getting started with SX, you will need to use the form linked above before you can start using the portal.
Also note that in the past, if your station exceeded 159,140 ATH, it would have been advantageous to use another option for paying and reporting in that the costs for listeners would have been less, but the reporting requirements more burdensome. We do not, as of this writing, know if that will be true moving forward. We should know the answer to that question by the end of the month. Again, CBI will keep you updated through its email list and website.
UPDATE: The certification requirement has been changed to reflect the correct section of the regulations AND to correct other language which was found to be incorrect. For your reference only, I will not be choose to pay until I know the outcome of the rate setting proceeding which I think may include amendments to the recordkeeping/reporting regulations. My station would like to report data, but not if the requirements are impossible to meet.