Did Stream Licensing Defraud Internet Radio Stations & Rob Artists? Monday February 25 2019, 5:45 AM
The Beast
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Did Stream Licensing Defraud Internet Radio Stations & Rob Artists?

I had an interesting conversation with Stream Licensing recently and thought I would share it with those who might be curious to know more about them.  

I recently had a conversation with someone about switching MDR over to Live365 as an alternative platform since they offer an ad-based program which can help offset the high cost of streaming and they have a built-in license for broadcasters. When we got on the subject of Stream Licensing, I was told that Stream Licensing are not actually legal and they have not been paying royalties to Sound Exchange, BMI, Ascap and Sesac. I laughed at first and thought this person must be crazy. I mean if you go to the website of Stream Licensing you will see listed all over how they pay royalties to these companies and so forth. So, out of curiosity, I emailed Stream Licensing and simply asked them “Can you show me proof that you are paying royalties to Sound Exchange, BMI, Ascap and Sesac?”   The response that I got was something I totally did not expect and still to this moment can't fully believe it but this is what they said.  

Hello, Unfortunately, I don't have proof available. If you are concerned, I'm going to suggest that we close your account and stop services. You will then go over to live365.com and you will pay your bill to them and use their streaming. I'm canceling your account.” -  Paul Merrell 

Following this response, I instantly got an email confirming my cancellation, even though I did not cancel my account, and was simply asking a question. 

My next response: 

“If you cannot provide proof that you have been paying our money to where it should be going, then I kindly request a refund for every month that I have paid you and you have not paid royalties on my behalf. This means you have charged me and taken my money for services that you did not provide, and you left me open to lawsuits. I am requesting proof that royalties have been paid going back to the beginning of our business relationship. These are illegal business practices, if you are not doing what we are paying you for.” 

Stream Licensing’s response: 

“Hi Zachery, I'm not authorized to provide a huge refund. I can refund 3 months of  payments and we will close your account immediately. This is the only offer i can provide.” - Paul Merrell 

Then the next day they followed up with another response and a completely different tone. 

“Hi, I just looked at your site and you aren't compliant. We aren't paying you anything at all. I have informed the owner of the company of your site and we will see what happens. The page is definitely out of compliance.” - Paul Merrell 

My response: 

“You were not providing the services that we were paying for, so therefore you committed fraud. You stole from us.  And, if you had been doing your job, you could have informed us that our website was not compliant. But all you were doing is taking our money for nothing. As far as I knew, we were compliant.  We had your embedded player button and the logo on our site.  You were not compliant as you are not paying royalties to them. You need to refund my money now. Btw. I have well over 100 thousand followers on social media. I have a blog and I have many contacts with mainstream media outlets. I bet they would find this conversation very interesting, don't you?“ 

Their response: 

Crickets... 

Just a few minutes ago I was going to take a screenshot of what it says on their home page about what they offer but it looks like the website is down.... Interesting. www.streamlicensing.com

 

As many of you know, Metal Devastation Radio has been on Stream Licensing’s platform for a little over 5 years now. Running and operating a legal online radio station requires you to get licensed in order to play copyrighted material and in order to make sure royalties are paid to the artists for their work. This is a very expensive thing and depending on how many listeners you have on your station it can get to be extremely expensive. We have been paying anywhere from 60 dollars a month to 120 dollars a month, depending on how many listeners we had for that period. We have always looked at this as simply part of it. It might seem like a lot but in reality, how can you expect to play music from bands without paying them something for their work. I am also well aware the artists barely make anything from this at all, by the time it actually reaches them but that is a totally other story.  

Regardless, we have always been proud to be licensed and legit and to be able to say we give something back to the community of artists that work so hard making the music we all love and listen to every day. 

So, you can only imagine how I felt when I learned this horrifying truth about Stream Licensing. So, what does this all mean exactly? Are they committing mass fraud to the thousands of internet radio stations they supposedly cover? Are they committing fraud to all the artists that trusted the websites with their logo on it? I really do not know but what I can say is that we are proud to be now on the live365 platform and fully licensed as you can see proof of them being legit along with other well-known companies like Pandora, SeriusXM and IheartMedia on Sound Exchange’s website here at this link: SoundExchange

Here are the screenshots of the back and forth conversation:

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