Frequently asked questions about SoundExchange reporting

SoundExchange FAQ

1. What is the SoundExchange/CPB agreement?
  • SoundExchange is the clearinghouse for all streaming performance royalties. The agreement originally signed in 2009, covers all NPR members and NFCB (National Federation of Community Broadcasting) members.

     1a. What types of royalties are there?
  • There are about 12 types of royalties but we're only concerned with the main two types Authorship and Performance, the people that wrote the music and lyrics and the people that actually played the piece of music.  SoundExchange covers the performance aspect and BMI/ASCAP covers the authorship of the music. Royalties are due for Streaming and broadcast/over-air. The CPB/SX agreement covers streaming performance royalties.

2. Does this cover my broadcast royalties?
  • No, you may still be asked to report on broadcast playlists, this is typically the same playlist as what is reported for streaming, but they are different audiences and have different royalty commitments.

3. What time-frame do I report?
  • Most stations are required to report a two-week period each quarter. Some stations are required to report the full quarter’s worth of music, and we ask stations that are currently not required to report the full quarter, but are capable of delivering full-quarter reports, do so.

4. When are my SoundExchange reports due?
  • The reporting is due quarterly, using calendar quarter, the deadline is typically the first Friday after the end of the quarter. The January and June dates fluctuate a little because of the New Years and 4th of July holidays.
    • 1st quarter is Jan-March and the deadline is typically around April 1st-5th.
    • 2nd quarter is April –June and the deadline is typically the first business day after the 4th of July Holiday.
    • 3rd quarter is July – September and the deadline is typically October 1st-5th
    • 4th quarter is October – December and the deadline is typically the first business day after the New Year’s holiday.

5. What is the standard for formatting the playlist?

The formatting required for the playlist is available here:  Playlist formatting

      5a. What is the standard for formatting for the streaming logs?

The formatting required for the streaming log is available here: Streaming log formatting

6. I've just come under the CPB agreement what do I do?
  • The first step is to go to and register for the agreement. At the beginning of the next full quarter, NPR will contact stations that have newly opted in with CPB and provide credentials and instructions for reporting.

7. What are BMI and ASCAP?
  • BMI and ASCAP are also royalty clearing houses, but they cover the authorship of the musical works. The CPB/SX agreement was amended in 2014 to include reporting for those organizations. You must go to to opt in to coverage of BMI and ASCAP. Once this is done I will include the same reporting you do for SX into a report for those organizations.

8. Do I have to do SoundExchange reporting?
  • Yes, If you’re live streaming, you have to report. There are alternative reporting options that smaller stations may qualify for but, but it is part of doing business.

9. How do I format my logs/playlists correctly?
  • The formatting required for the streaming log is available here: Streaming log formatting
  • The formatting required for the playlist is available here:  Playlist formatting
  • You will need to manipulate the streaming logs, that format is not a raw log format.  We needed to standardize because of the volume of formats and time zone issues.  It can be done easily with a little scripting knowledge, or less easily manually.  We can offer you a perl parser, but if the logs change the parser will not work anymore.  Some CDN’s will do the reformatting for you; StreamGuys is especially helpful in this area.  You do not have to deliver streaming logs to us if you stream with NPR Digital Services we have access to them already.
  • The playlists often come down to discipline from your on-air staff. It’s important to accurate record start and stop times, or start time and duration.  We also need Date, Song title, artists, album, record label.

10. What if I don't want to report via the CPB/SX agreement?
  • There are potential alternate ways of meeting your reporting obligations, but that is something you need to handle internally. We know how to administer this agreement. We suggest you speak with SoundExchange directly and with a station counsel to review alternative options.

11. We use NPR Digital Services streaming what does that mean?
  • You’re in luck! You only need to manage the playlist portion of reporting. We have access to your streaming logs already.

12. I put my playlists into new composer now what?
  • If you’re a Triton Streaming customer through the Digital Services deal, and have uploaded your playlists you’re all set.
  • If you’re not a Triton Streaming customer, you need to also provide at least two weeks (preferably a full quarter) of streaming logs formatted in the standardized format Streaming log format).

13. We only play really old music, do I still have to report?
  • Yes you do, some music is old and authorship may have fallen into the public domain, but the performance might not be in the public domain.
  • It’s much better to report and let SoundExchange determine if royalties are due. When in doubt report.

14. We are a news/talk station do we need to report?
  • Yes, it’s for the best, most news/talk shows have intro-outro music and that can really add up for the larger stations. Marketplace alone will generate hundreds of hours of music. Even if you’re certain you have no music, please upload streaming logs, and make sure your program schedule with syndicated programs are up to date. It demonstrates system-wide compliance. When in doubt report.

15. My DJs don't keep track of their playlists or aren't recording times correctly what do I do?
  • This is a challenge for smaller radio stations without playlist automation, but it’s  essential that the DJs get trained to record their music so you can generate a playlist for royalty reporting.

16. I've missed the deadline, what should I do?
  • Get the files in as soon as possible. NPR Digital Services sends several email reminders throughout the quarter and the dates are static..  The further from the deadline the higher the likelihood that the report will be submitted without your station's mandatory participation.

17. Can I report dates that aren't in the current reporting quarter?
  • No, each report that we submit can only contain data for the active quarter.

18. Can I report the whole year at once?
  • No, we need the reports to contain only data from the active quarter.

19. What if I don’t report?    
  • This is a mandatory part of running a radio station, it’s not optional, that being said occasionally technical difficulties occur. If your server crashes, or you stop streaming for a period and you lose streaming logs or playlists, please let NPR Digital Services know. Even if you can only provide a partial report, the most comprehensive good-faith effort is in your and the system’s best interest.

Questions? Having Trouble? Contact Station Relations

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