Airplay Waiver FAQs

How do I benefit by signing the SmoothJazz.com Airplay Waiver?

By authorizing SmoothJazz.com to play your music royalty-free you gain global exposure to a large, consumer base that will not only hear your recording(s), but will see your cover image on our Website, Media Player and Mobile App including convenient buy links to your on-line distribution. This Direct-To-Audience sales model was invented by SmoothJazz.com in 2001 and helps artists and labels all over the world generate sales.

Additionally, you will benefit by SmoothJazz.com's influence on radio and industry professionals including, but not limited to, talent buyers. Radio stations around the world have looked to SmoothJazz.com as the leader when it comes to discovering and breaking new artists. Our endorsement can translate to airplay and more.

Is the SmoothJazz.com Airplay Waiver exclusive to SmoothJazz.com Radio?

Yes. The Airplay Waiver here is dedicated to SmoothJazz.com music streams exclusively and does not represent any other radio station regardless of their affiliation as contributors to SmoothJazz.com Music Charts.

Waivers are an agreement between individual broadcasters and the music copyright holder.

Download the Airplay Waiver.

What exactly am I waiving?

SmoothJazz.com does not recognize the statutory license of Sound Exchange. We do direct licensing with artists and labels. When you sign our airplay waiver, you waive your digital performance royalties.

How much money is that?

Music copyright holders (artists, labels) earn .0017 per song spin per listener or .17 cents per 100 spins per listener. The average spins per week for new music on Smooth Jazz Radio Stations is 15, so the gross revenue earned would be approximately $1.50 per month per Internet radio station for every 100 listeners on a song in current rotation!

Our position is that artists and labels may be better off agreeing to license-free airplay for Chart reporting Webcasters who offer click-to-buy links to your on-line distribution to foster sales. In some circumstances, this model far exceeds royalties that might be earned and paid quarterly when you reach the minimum royalty accumulation to receive a royalty payment from Sound Exchange.

Does Sound Exchange allow me to sign your waiver?

According to the Sound Exchange website, "The statutory license was created as a benefit for service providers to ease the process of operation and allow open access to musicians' full catalog of creative work. That said, it is completely within your rights to negotiate directly with webcasters should you decide that is best."

Do you discourage recording artists from becoming members of Sound Exchange?

Not at all. We encourage artists to monetize however possible. 

We do believe that there may be some opportunities in the current landscape of on-line broadcasting, whereby an artist may actually benefit greater from on-air exposure with "Click-To-Buy" music distribution on popular, Internet radio stations that are not able to sustain the Sound Exchange fee infrastructure.

What happens if I don't sign?

Nothing. Literally. You will not receive airplay from SmoothJazz.com Radio and therefore will not receive Playlist adds, on-air spins, Click-to-Buy sales links or exposure on our Global music platform.

Does Sound Exchange impose fees on FM Radio?

No! Terrestrial radio (FM/AM) is currently exempt from Sound Exchange fees. FM broadcasters are not paying Sound Exchange. You currently make no money from your airplay on FM radio from Sound Exchange!

How are Internet Radio Stations (webcasters) charged for airplay and by whom?

Internet broadcasters in the U.S. are charged royalty fees by three publishing agencies (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) and one digital performance consortium created by the R.I.A.A. (Sound Exchange), the latter recently created to recoup from catastrophic digital download sales more than a decade ago. It would appear that Internet radio has been targeted as the scapegoat for Napster's bad behavior of giving away music for free. Despite many appeals to Congress, the fledging medium has been levied tremendous tariffs while terrestrial radio has been left virtually unscathed.

Sound Exchange imposes fees based on listenership, not revenue, which is why more and more webcasters are signing off. The current charges are .0017 per song per listener, or .17 cents per 100 spins per listener.

While that may not seem like a lot, let's do the math... if there are 1000 listeners per day, and on average a station plays 250 songs per day, the daily rate would be $425 with a monthly fee of $13,175 ($158,100 annually)! Most small Internet radio stations do not make anywhere near this kind of money.

Each publishing agency has its own formula to collect from Internet broadcasters, BMI and SESAC have converted recently to the Sound Exchange model of basing their royalties on listenership regardless of earnings, while ASCAP charges a percentage of income for usage of their artist's music... so that annual feel could potentially be quadrupled to satisy all four agencies for one webcaster.

Is the current royalty rate hike affecting on-line broadcasters? How will that affect me as a recording artist?

Yes, as noted above, the current royalty rate with Sound Exchange, and two out of the three publishing agencies adopting the same, listener-based rate structure, has made internet broadcasting unsustainable for independent Webcasters who's listenership exceed their revenue.

Since recent private deals were cut with big box, music streaming services such as iTunes, Sirius XM, and Pandora, the burden to bear these hefty royalties is left on the thin shoulders of internet broadcasters, many of whom, unfortunately, are not able to even afford proper legal representation when appealing to the U.S. Congress.

How did music licensing become unsustainable for independent Webcasters?

As a pioneer of internet radio, SmoothJazz.com was the first internet jazz station in the world. We signed on the "air" in March 2000. At that time, we appropriately contacted music licensing agencies with payment, based on a terrestrial (FM) fee structure, only to have our money returned as they were not yet prepared for non-terrestrial broadcasting.

Soon after, the agencies were organized and initiated revenue-based fee structures whereby an income percentage was imposed upon Webcasters, thus allowing independent internet radio stations to grow and pay more as earnings increased.

Sound Exchange, (a group spun off from the Recording Industry Association of America to handle royalty collection) introduced a game changer for Webcasters in 2003. According to TechDirt.com : "Royalties being set by Sound Exchange in the summer of 2003, were pretty clearly designed to put smaller, independent webcasters out of business. From the RIAA's point of view, this is perfectly typical. They still view the world (especially the internet) as a broadcast medium. Therefore, they want a small number of ‘professional' content producers who create the content for everyone else."

This placed SmoothJazz.com, an independent internet broadcasting outlet, run by radio industry "professionals," in jeopardy of signing off, until we discovered an alternative to Sound Exchange's untenable royalty structure, which was to pursue private licensing arrangements with artists and labels. We contacted hundreds if not thousands of artists and labels to request independent airplay licensing agreements arguing that airplay on our global platform offering exposure and consumer support was better than receiving no airplay at all from our on-line stream.

To date, we've received cooperation from several thousand independent artists and labels so that we are able to stay on the air, all the while sustaining one of the most vibrant genres in the music business, developing new artists and garnering a younger listener base all over the world.

How is the SmoothJazz.com Global Music Marketing business model different than standard radio advertising?

Traditional radio stations are monetized by commercial advertising from a random assortment of business and services who buy airtime to increase exposure to their brand, thus making conventional, commercial radio stations, advertising outlets. Hence, paying a percentage of revenue to air licensed music makes sense, as the argument goes, people are listening for the music, and advertisers are buying airtime for the listeners.

Conversely, SmoothJazz.com does not sell conventional advertisement. We do not earn revenue from airing radio commercials for non-music lifestyle businesses. Our entire radio station playlist is derived from mostly current music by SmoothJazz.com recording artists and clients. These artists and labels utilize our resources and employ us as their global media partner for brand development, organization and increased exposure inside and outside the music industry.

Why should I use SmoothJazz.com Global as my media partner?

SmoothJazz.com Global has created an International hub for consumers, music enthusiasts, industry professionals including recording artists, music labels, radio stations programmers, festival producers, and talent buyers. Our massive audience is diversified across a number of platforms such as social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), audio/visual media distribution channels (YouTube, Soundcloud), music related websites (SmoothJazz.com, SmoothLounge.com, SmoothTravel.net), streaming mobile apps, email subscriber base, weekly published airplay charts, etc.

The SmoothJazz.com music marketing model is one that integrates artists' unique brand (sound, style and imaging) into our entire, diverse global platform through airplay, visual design, audio production, and social media branding. Our suite of campaigns incorporate support with consumer sales by taking new music directly to a worldwide audience of consumers with convenient click-to-buy links. In addition we offer assistance chart status, gaining radio airplay with our 70+ reporting radio stations, and help achieve visibility with festival/event promoters and talent buyers.

Is airplay on SmoothJazz.com "Pay for Play"?

No. Not all of the music you hear on SmoothJazz.com is from our clients. SmoothJazz.com receives hundreds of submissions per week from artists all over the world. We listen for music that fits our global vision for the current sound and future of Smooth Jazz. Our mix on SmoothJazz.com is a popular, proprietary blend of music that is hand-selected by founder Sandy Shore and her programming team.

As an aside, our highly esteemed artist and label clientele are not paying for music airplay... they are investing in surrounding services on SmoothJazz.com's global marketing platform.

How does Internet Radio measure their listening audience and analytics?

We imagine that most Internet broadcasters use the extensive tools that Google Analytics provide for website visitation. smoothjazz.com/marketing

At SmoothJazz.com we have many audio streams for our global audience to listen to... from 32k mp3 to 64k AAC+ on our mobile app, to 256k high def, therefore it is a challenge aggregating all of our streams and listeners. However, in an effort to deliver accuracy, we have recently migrated all of our bandwidth to ONE bandwidth provider who will be able to provide us with an aggregated accounting of our listenership.