ASCAP Music Licensing for Websites & Mobile Apps

ASCAP’s Website & Mobile App Music License - Condensed FAQs

Why do websites and mobile apps need a public performance license and what does that mean?

A public performance of a musical work occurs when music is transmitted to the public or to a public place. Because streams of music from websites and mobile apps are “transmitted” to the public, they constitute public performances. If you have a video on your website or mobile app that contains music and is available for streaming, you are transmitting music to the public and therefore require a public performance license.

Are there additional permissions I may need to use music on my website or mobile app?

Synchronization (“Sync”) License: This is the right to synchronize a  musical composition with visual imagery. This right is typically obtained directly from the copyright owner of the musical work, which is usually the music publisher. While music publishers are members of ASCAP, ASCAP is not authorized to issue sync licenses; we are authorized to offer only public performance licenses. Although we are unable to offer you a sync license, you may use ASCAP's database at www.ascap.com/ace to research  the particular song for which you need a sync license. The screenshot below shows you where to find the publisher contact information when you search our database:

Example of how to use ASCAP's repertory database to find the music publisher of a certain song.

Master Use (“Master”) License: This is the right to reproduce a specific recording of a song in your film or other audio-visual content. You clear this right with the entity that owns the specific sound recording you would like to use, usually the record label. ASCAP is not able to issue Master licenses because it does not represent sound recordings. Companies such as SoundExchange can help you find the entity you may need to contact.

I stream music or offer live performances on my social media channels - do I need a license from ASCAP to do this?

ASCAP has issued licenses to several of the largest social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Instagram, Soundcloud, etc. You do not need to obtain an ASCAP music license for the performance of ASCAP music in content via these platforms.

It is important for you to keep in mind, however, that posting and streaming a video that includes music may implicate other rights associated with either of or both the underlying song and the recording of that song. You may need to contact the music publisher of the songs and/or the record labels of the recordings to ensure your music uses are authorized. Many social media platforms remove content containing music that is not fully licensed. Please refer to the example in the “sync” section of this primer for instructions on how to find the music publisher of a specific musical work using ASCAP database.

Should your content be "blocked" or removed by the social media platforms above, please review the platform’s terms and conditions and contact the platform directly.

 

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Website & Mobile App Music Licensing FAQ

View a comprehensive list of FAQs about ASCAP's Website & Mobile App Music License before purchasing your license.

  • Web & Mobile Licensing
Why does an Internet or digital wireless site or service need an ASCAP license?
The U.S. copyright law requires those that publicly perform copyrighted music -- including websites and other digital services that transmit music to the public -- to first obtain a license from the copyright owners of the songs performed. Just as you need permission to use other forms of property, you must also receive permission to use the musical property owned by the more than 550,000 songwriter, composer and publisher members of ASCAP. While you may receive permission directly from each copyright owner, ASCAP’s members have authorized ASCAP to license their musical works on their behalf. A single ASCAP license thereby gives you the legal right to perform through your site or digital service the entire ASCAP repertory.
What benefits does an ASCAP license provide?
A single ASCAP license provides your Internet site or digital wireless service public performance rights to the entire ASCAP repertory of songs from its more than 550,000 members, eliminating the need to obtain separate performance licenses from each individual copyright owner. An ASCAP license also gives you the right to perform on your site or service the repertories of nearly 100 affiliated foreign performing rights organizations from around the world.
Who else is licensed by ASCAP?
ASCAP licenses public performances of its musical works repertory made by dozens of different types of businesses including radio stations, television stations and networks, concert promoters, restaurants and dance clubs, hotels, retail stores and background music services.
What kind of music does ASCAP license?
The ASCAP repertory contains music of every form and style including rock, pop, country, gospel, Broadway show music, film and television music, jazz, Latin, big band, soul, symphony and concert music. If you want to know if a particular work is in the ASCAP repertory (identified by title, and the name of the writer, publisher or well-known recording artist), you may access ACE, ASCAP’s extensive, online database of ASCAP works, at www.ascap.com/ACE.
What does an ASCAP New Media license cover?
An ASCAP license authorizes the public performance of the entire ASCAP repertory and the repertories of over 90 foreign societies from around the world by means of Internet and wireless digital transmissions.
Is an ASCAP license all I need to use music lawfully on my website, podcast or digital service?
An ASCAP New Media license does not authorize the public performance of the repertories of other U.S. performing rights societies (such as SESAC or BMI or GMR). Nor does it authorize the reproduction and/or distribution of musical works; and/or the performance, reproduction and/or distribution of sound recordings. Each of these uses requires separate authorizations from the respective copyright owners or licensing representative. For example, to obtain a mechanical or synchronization license for the reproduction and/or distribution of musical compositions, please contact the appropriate music publishers and/or the Harry Fox Agency. To obtain authorization to perform or reproduce sound recordings, please contact SoundExchange or the record company associated with each particular recording.
What is the "digital performance of a sound recording?" Does ASCAP license that as well?
Sound recordings and their underlying songs are each protected by separate copyrights. In 1995, U.S. law provided copyright owners of sound recordings, for the first time, with their own separate public performance right, limited to performances made in the course of digital transmissions such as streaming by Internet sites and services and transmissions by digital radio services. ASCAP does not license digital public performances of sound recordings; ASCAP only licenses the public performances of the underlying song or composition. For more information regarding licensing of sound recordings please consult an attorney and/or the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
What if I intend to make only one song available? Does ASCAP offer song-by-song licensing?
ASCAP does not grant licenses to perform individual songs in its repertory. Rather, ASCAP offers blanket licenses that authorize the public performance of the entire ASCAP repertory. If you seek authorization to perform publicly a specific song or group of songs, please contact each of the music publisher(s) for each song. Please utilize the ACE database tool for ASCAP song information assistance.
Does ASCAP license digital sites or services that are located outside the U.S?
ASCAP licenses the public performance of ASCAP works occurring within the United States, its territories, dependencies, possessions and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (“ASCAP Territory”). If your service is located and performing music elsewhere, please contact the performing rights organization in the relevant territory(ies) to obtain the necessary licensing. If your service is located outside of the ASCAP Territory but you believe you are performing within the ASCAP Territory, for example, by streaming through servers or having headquarters located in ASCAP Territory, please contact ASCAP by sending an email to weblicense@ascap.com.
Do I need an ASCAP license if I stream content containing ASCAP music via a third-party media player, such as a YouTube or Soundcloud?
Public performances of ASCAP music via most third-party players are licensed through arrangements between the third parties and ASCAP and, therefore, sites or services utilizing such players do not require additional licensing by ASCAP. If you are unsure whether the player you use is already licensed by ASCAP and/or if your site or service is performing ASCAP music through other means, please contact ASCAP by sending an email to weblicense@ascap.com.
Do I need an ASCAP license if I stream through Streamlicensing?
If you are a Streamlicensing customer, your internet only radio station requires an ASCAP license.
Do I need an ASCAP license if my site or service includes a link to another site or service that uses ASCAP music?
Generally, no. ASCAP will license the site or service to which your site or service links. If, however, you are unsure whether you need a license, please contact ASCAP by sending an email to weblicense@ascap.com.
I operate a low-power FM radio station and would like to stream the station online as well. Do I need a separate license for the stream?
Yes. Please complete the license application at: http://www.ascap.com/licensing/types/web-mobile
How do I obtain an ASCAP license?
Please click here to obtain an ASCAP license.
Do I need an ASCAP license before I launch my service? What happens if I launch my service before obtaining an ASCAP license?
Performing copyrighted music without the proper licensing in place may amount to copyright infringement. It is, therefore, strongly recommended that you obtain all necessary licenses prior to the launch of a site or digital service utilizing copyrighted music.
What information do I require in order to obtain an ASCAP license?
You should be aware of your site or service’s annual revenue (if any) and usage. Usage metrics include (1) unique engagement sessions; (2) total content streaming time and (3) total song streams. Basic website statistics may be available to you at no cost via third-party measurement tools, such as Google Analytics.
There has been a change of ownership with my service. Who do I notify?
Please email weblicense@ascap.com and an ASCAP New Media Licensing representative will contact you with further information.
Who do I contact if my question(s) are not answered here?
If you have additional questions concerning ASCAP New Media licensing, or your responsibilities under the U.S. copyright law for the use of music by way of an Internet or digital wireless service, please contact ASCAP by utilizing the chat feature at www.ascap.com, emailing weblicense@ascap.com or calling (800) 505-4052.
I know I need an ASCAP license, however, my site or service is new and I do not know how much revenue and/or sessions my site or service will generate. How do I complete the license application?
If actual data is not available in response to requested information, please provide a good faith estimate. All fields on an ASCAP license application and license fee report must be completed.
What income qualifies as "Service Revenue?"
All revenue connected with your entire site or service, such as the amounts and value of consideration received from advertising, sponsorships, affiliation and similar programs; placement and similar fees; e-commerce and other sales revenue; and access or membership charges or subscription fees.
What income qualifies as Music Revenue, and how does that differ from Service Revenue?
Music Revenue includes all revenues connected to only that portion of your site or service that provides performances of music. Include all amounts and value of consideration received from advertising, sponsorships, affiliation and similar programs; placement and similar fees; e-commerce and other sales revenue; and access or membership charges or subscription fees.
Can I take deductions in calculating my Revenue?
Yes, you may deduct actual and verifiable third party advertising agency commissions for the sale of advertising or sponsorships in amount no more than 10% of the advertising and sponsorship revenue. You may also deduct payable taxes.
What if my service has no advertising, subscription fees or income of any kind?
If your service does not generate any income, enter "$0.00" in the applicable revenue space on the license application and on the applicable revenue lines of any license fee reports.
What is a Session? Is it the same as a "hit?"
A Session is a single, continuous period of access to the site or service by a user, regardless of the length of such period. You may report your Sessions using third-party metrics such as that available through Google Analytics.
How do I calculate Total Streaming Hours?
Add the total minutes of music performance minutes and divide that result by 60, and round to the nearest whole number.
I operate more than one unique site or service that streams ASCAP music. May I license all of my sites and services through a single ASCAP license?
Generally you must obtain a separate ASCAP license for each individual site or service. If you wish to explore obtaining a single license that covers multiple sites or services, please contact ASCAP at weblicense@ascap.com.
When are license fee payments due?
License fees for the initial term (first 12 months) of an ASCAP license agreement are due upon completion and submission of the license application. License fee payments for subsequent annual terms are due upon the each annual anniversary of the agreement and can be remitted through your My ASCAP License account, accessible at www.ascap.com/mylicense. Your My ASCAP License account also provides you with the ability to view and print invoices, make changes to your address or contact information and set email preferences.
Are License Fees prorated for the current calendar year?
No. ASCAP license agreements operate on an annual contract year, calculated at 12 months from the date you enter into the ASCAP license (sometimes known as the “effective date”).
What forms of payment do you accept when entering into an ASCAP License through ASCAP.com?
You may only use a credit card to pay the initial term license fees when entering an ASCAP license. However, subsequent payments may be remitted by credit card, debit paper or electronic check, money order or wire transfer.
How do I access a My ASCAP License Account?
Once you have entered into an ASCAP license, you will receive by email instructions on how to register for a unique My ASCAP License account.
Can I access my account online?
Yes. You can access your My ASCAP License account at your convenience at www.ascap.com/mylicense.
Can I submit a license application without paying the initial license fees and have ASCAP bill me later?
No. ASCAP will not accept your license application without receiving your credit card payment at the time you submit your application.
Once I submit to ASCAP my license application and initial payment at ASCAP.com, am I fully licensed?
Within 5-7 business days of your submission of your application and initial fee, ASCAP will send you an email confirming that your license application and fee have been accepted. Please keep that email and the PDF copy of the license agreement that will be attached to the email as record confirmation that your site or service has been successfully licensed by ASCAP.
Where can I access a copy of my license?
If your license application was accepted successfully, a PDF copy of your license agreement will have been automatically provided to you via email within 5-7 business days after your submission of the license application.
What is an Annual Fee Report?
An Annual Fee Report is the means by which you calculate and inform ASCAP of your annual license fees due to ASCAP. You may access your Annual Fee Report at www.ascap.com/mylicense.
How do I submit the Annual Fee Report?
You may only submit an Annual Fee Report online through your account at www.ascap.com/mylicense.
How do I determine the number of Sessions I had for the previous year when completing my Annual Fee Report?
You may obtain this information from your site or service’s Internet service provider (ISP) and/or from one of many website analytics tools, such as Google Analytics.
When are License Fee Reports due?
For license agreements requiring annual reporting, reports are due within 45 days after the annual renewal of the license agreement. Reports are available at and must submitted through your My ASCAP License account at www.ascap.com/mylicense.
What are Music Use Reports?
Music Use Reports are reports you submit to ASCAP of your site or service’s music usage.
What goes into my Music Use Report?
You will include on your Music Use Report information associated with each of the musical compositions streamed by your site or service during the report period.
Do I need to submit a Music Use Report?
Many ASCAP licenses do not require submission of a Music Use Report. Please consult Schedule A of your license agreement to determine your reporting requirements. If you are required to submit a Music Use Report, ASCAP will notify and instruct you via email of your specific reporting instructions.
Where can I find Music Use Report templates?
ASCAP will email you the appropriate template with instructions on how to complete the report.
How do I submit Music Use Reports?
Please consult the Music Use Reporting instructions provided to you by ASCAP via email.
How do I know what my account balance is?
You can check your account balance by logging in anytime to your My ASCAP License user account at www.ascap.com/mylicense.
How do I know what reports I have due?
You can check what reports are due by logging in anytime to your My ASCAP License user account at www.ascap.com/mylicense.
I am not required to submit Annual Fee Reports, but my Service Revenue and/or Sessions have changed beyond the threshold under which I currently qualify. How do I notify ASCAP so that my license and fee can be adjusted accordingly?
If your site or service has changed requiring license adjustments, please contact ASCAP at weblicense@ascap.com.
My service has already launched prior to my contacting ASCAP for a license. Can I retroactively license my site or service and backdate my license to cover the earlier periods?
Your license cannot be backdated and will be effective only from the date you submit your license application and remit your license fee. If you wish to obtain license coverage for performances occurring prior to purchasing your license please email ASCAP at weblicense@ascap.com.
I want an ASCAP license, but do not have a URL for my service because it operates only as a mobile app or a smart TV channel/app or because I have not yet secured the URL for my website. How do I complete the URL section on the license application?
License agreements for mobile or smart TV applications do not require you to enter a URL. If you desire a license for a website but do not yet have a URL, please return to ASCAP.com for a license once you have obtained a URL to enter onto the application.
How do I terminate my agreement with ASCAP?
To terminate your ASCAP license agreement, please send an email to weblicense@ascap.com and an ASCAP representative will contact you.
I still have an older Interactive or Non-Interactive ASCAP new media license. How do I convert to a new license?
Please email weblicense@ascap.com, include your account number, and request for ASCAP to convert your license. An ASCAP New Media Licensing representative will contact you with next steps.

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