Commercial and noncommercial entities streaming sound recordings over the Internet under statutory licensing are reminded that the annual minimum webcasting fee for 2015 is due to be paid to SoundExchange no later than February 2, 2015. The annual minimum fee payment is $500 per channel or station, up to a maximum of $50,000 in the case of commercial broadcasters. The minimum fee is nonrefundable and credited against any additional royalty fees payable by the webcaster in 2015. Each minimum fee payment must be accompanied by a service-specific Statement of Account form prepared by SoundExchange, copies of which are available here (for commercial webcasters) and here (for noncommercial webcasters) by clicking on the 2015 “Min Fee SOA” link for the appropriate service type. Failure to submit the annual minimum fee by the February 2 deadline could subject a webcaster to late payment penalties. The obligation to submit the annual minimum fee payment is in addition to the ongoing requirement to file with SoundExchange monthly Statements of Account and Reports of Use. New stations or channels that begin streaming after January 31, 2015 are required to submit a minimum fee payment with the current monthly Statement of Account within 45 days of the end of the month in which streaming began.
February 2, 2015 is also the deadline for certain classes of webcasters to notify SoundExchange that they wish to continue to operate within their class or be exempt from particular filing requirements. This includes “small broadcasters,” which are commercial broadcasters that streamed fewer than 27,777 aggregate tuning hours in the previous year and reasonably expect not to exceed 27,777 tuning hours in the current year (about seventy listeners each listening an hour a day). Small broadcasters are exempt from filing monthly Reports of Use upon payment of a $100 reporting waiver. The submission of the Small Broadcaster Statement of Account form serves as the notification to SoundExchange of a “small broadcaster” election.
In 2015, SoundExchange plans to launch an online portal for the submission of fee payments called “SoundExchange Licensee Direct.” If you are interested in participating in the “beta” test for the online portal, contact SoundExchange at 202-559-0555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions regarding your webcaster obligations or the completion of the proper SoundExchange filings, or would like to discuss any aspect relating to streaming music on the Internet, please contact any attorney in our office.