Recommendations for streaming music with an online radio station


We are looking for legal sources of digital music that can be used by student DJs. Streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora do not seem to have a license that allows their music to be ‘broadcast’ even if royalties are paid through sound exchange.

Does your organization have any recommendations of services that can be used?

ANSWER (from Clay Zigler of Rockwood Summit High School):

The three main companies are BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. Then there is SoundExchange. There is no real way around not paying the licensing fee unless of course these agencies turn a blind eye since no actual revenue is being generated by the school. In other words don’t sell any advertising with your music show. That, however, will not prevent you from paying fees. It might also help if you have a very small audience but still does not guarantee you not be charged a license fee.  Most likely it will still be required, regardless of broadcast or internet streaming.

BMI provides a fee for high schools and colleges. It is an annual fee starting on January 1 and ends on December 31. The 2019 fee was $359. You should be able to contact them with questions at

Both ASCAP and SESAC are about the same.

I don’t have a lot of information regarding SoundExchange. I do know there was some legal disputes with them, not sure if that has been cleared up yet or not. They do charge a different rate for non profit educational stations. I think it’s $500 annually. They also require you to keep track of every song played. That can be avoided but with an additional fee.

Another resource is IBS Radio.

Hope this helps a bit.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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