All Streaming is Not The Same


David-Oxenford2Adele’s new CD is online — sort of.

Adele’s decision not to place her new CD “25” on Apple Music or Spotify does not mean it’s not online anywhere.

Listeners can still find it on services like iHeart Radio, Pandora, Accuadio that stream over-the-air radio stations.

Why the difference? Because the law treats non-interactive and interactive streaming services differently, according to Wilkinson Barker Knauer partner David Oxenford.

“On-demand or “interactive” audio services, like Spotify and Apple Music or the recently in-the-news Rdio, obtain music licenses through negotiations with the copyright holders of the sound recordings — usually the record labels,” says Oxenford. These are services where a listener can specify the next track that he or she will hear, or where the listener can store playlists of music they have selected, or even hear on-demand pre-arranged playlists with the tracks in the playlist identified in advance by the service.

In contrast, online non-interactive services (often called Internet radio or webcasting), where the listener cannot pick the next song they will hear) do not need to negotiate with the record labels to get permission to play a sound recording’ like Adele’s 25. Instead, these services pay for their music licensing through a “statutory” or “compulsory” license, where they get access to all music legally released in the U.S.