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Music and Copyright: Livestreaming and Performance


Licensing for Live Performance and Live Streaming

There are several Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) that provide licensing for live performance+synchronous live stream. Licensing payments fund artist royalties. These groups offer blanket licenses, renewable on an annual basis, that cover the use of their entire catalogs or licensing of individual works.

The University of Iowa has blanket licenses (or "small rights") for live performance of non-theatrical works with ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Any performance with theatrical elements, such as acting, sets, and choreography requires grand rights and must be licensed on a work-by-work basis.

If a performance will be pre-recorded and streamed at a specific date and time or distributed on the UI School of Music YouTube channel, it is NOT a live stream but a recording. Please consult the page on Licensing Recordings for more information.


American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP)

Founded in 1914, ASCAP is the oldest of the American licensing agencies. It represents almost 775,000 creators and contains over 11 million works in its catalog. 

Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)

In 1939, ASCAP almost doubles its licensing rates, so a group of broadcasters formed BMI to provide an affordable alternative. Because they were competing with ASCAP, BMI ended up representing many artists that its competitor would not, including many black composers. BMI sells blanket licenses.

Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC)

SESAC represents over 1,000,000 works and 30,000 artists. It has existed since 1931, and in 2015, acquired the mechanical/synchronization licensing agency, Harry Fox, making it possible to license works in their catalog for live performance and for mechanical/sync through a single entity. They sell blanket live performance licenses, but NOT for mechanical/synch rights.

Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI)

CCLI is used by Christian churches to license the music performed in services. They upcharge for live streaming/podcasting and for the use of copyrighted materials in rehearsal. They also providing licensing services to cover the use of copyright video in services.