Sourcing Music – the Legal (and Safe) Way

CBAA News, 3rd April 2013

By David Sheils, Director Broadcast & Online Services, APRA|AMCOS

APRA AMCOS often receives queries from Community Radio Stations about legal sources of music. Can we stream Spotify or convert YouTube videos for broadcast? Where can we legally source music? 

Firstly, YouTube and Spotify operate services for personal use only. The YouTube Terms of Service state the following:

Content is provided to you AS IS. You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these Terms of Service. You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content. You shall not copy, reproduce, make available online or electronically transmit, publish, adapt, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content. YouTube and its licensors reserve all rights not expressly granted in and to the Service and the Content.” (Terms of Service - 5. Your Use of Content)

The Spotify Terms and Conditions of Use state:
“We grant you limited, non-exclusive, revocable permission to make use of the Spotify Service, and limited, non-exclusive, revocable permission to make personal, non-commercial use of the Content (collectively, “Access”). You promise and agree that you are using the Spotify Service and Content for your own personal, non-commercial use and that you will not redistribute or transfer the Spotify Service or the Content.” (Item 5. Using our service).

Most, if not all, other streaming services will have similar prohibitions, which means it is not okay to use these services to obtain material for broadcast.

Please note that these prohibitions are not mandated by APRA AMCOS.

Under the APRA AMCOS Community Radio Licence, music must not be reproduced from an infringing Sound Recording of the work, so the music must be from a legitimate source such as AMRAP, purchased online from sites such as iTunes and Google Play Music or CD's purchased from a store or provided by record companies or artists.

We understand that community radio stations often find it difficult to obtain music from record companies, and our licence also allows a station’s broadcasters to copy their own (legitimately sourced) music onto station’s servers for other broadcasters to use.

It is also okay to broadcast music supplied by Amrap or directly from the artist. Amrap provides a fantastic free music service that promotes Australian artists.

Sourcing music from the internet is risky. Searching for free music will give you a lot of results but knowing which sources are legitimately free is very difficult. And no one wants to be in the position of receiving a copyright infringement claim for music that they thought was fine to use.

Stations may not be aware, but, under the AMCOS section of the Community Radio Licence, they also have access to over half a million Production Music (PM) tracks, in every genre you can imagine, which can be used in Programmes, Sponsorship Announcements and Promos. A list of the music libraries available can be found in the Production Music section of our website.

All you have to do is contact one of the listed suppliers, advise them that your station holds an AMCOS licence and request access to download tracks from their sites. This music is available from PM Suppliers free of charge, provided you have acknowledged to APRA AMCOS that you are using it and paid the relevant annual fee.

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The internet provides a means for non-professional media-makers to produce and publish their own video and audio content, as community television and radio have done for several decades. While the web seems to exemplify the principles of media access and diversity championed by the community media sector, it also raises challenges for broadcast community media participants and their online equivalents, not least being the co-opting of the term ‘community media’ by large commercial interests. A symposium held in Melbourne by Open Spectrum Australia (‘Quality/Control’, State Library of Victoria, Oct 2008) brought together people with a wide range of community media experience to discuss this and other issues, particularly the possibilities for greater cooperation between broadcast and online community media participants.

This paper draws on participant contributions at the symposium to explore the relationship between broadcast and online community media. Despite shared values, we identify different, and possibly incompatible, cultures within the two groups. We argue that this disjoint stems from two different systems of control or validation (licensing and networks), as well as producer-centered accounts of community media that are out of sync with the contemporary media environment. Instead, we propose that theory and practice begin to address issues of consumption in relation to community media, including identification, navigation and the notion of ethical choice.


A knowledge of copyright is essential across all aspects of community broadcasting. Join us for this free online workshop to discuss copyright & community broadcasting.


The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) is excited to announce that the APRA AMCOS Ambassador joining the lineup for its 2018 national conference is Emily Wurramara.