Non-commercial web radio

If you wish to operate a non-commercial web radio and play music, you need different licences to do so. The Gesellschaft zur Verwertung von Leistungsschutzrechten mbH (GVL) issues the respective licence for the exploitation of commercially published sound recordings.

Would you like to register a non-commercial web radio with GVL? In that case, we need some important information from you such as how many hours per day you anticipate your service to broadcast, as this piece of information influences the level of licence fees we charge you. 

Documentation for non-commercial web radios

Please use the following forms if you want to inform us of a registration or notify us of a change: We also provide you with a completion guide for the registration form where we define important terms of the form, for example.

Non-commercial web radio – FAQs 

We have compiled the most important and most frequently asked questions surrounding non-commercial web radio for you, please read below:

Artistic performances and contributions by composers and performing artists, such as musicians or singers, are governed by the Copyright Act. Pursuant to the latter, composers and artists must receive remuneration when their rights are exploited. GEMA and GVL take on this task: GEMA administers the rights of composers and lyricists (authors), GVL represents performing artists (singers, musicians etc.) and producers of sound recordings. As a consequence, it is necessary to obtain a licence both via GEMA and GVL.

GVL licenses the music recordings used in a web radio service published or released on sound recordings (e.g. CDs) or by on-demand-services (e.g. Musicload or iTunes). GVL's duty to issue a licence applies irrespective of whether the statutory term of protection under copyright for composers and lyricists is still in force or has expired already. 

Please note that online streaming service providers only supply the technical framework; they cannot issue licences covering neighbouring rights. You as the operator of the web radio are responsible to obtain such a licence. 

To sum up: you need to follow these five steps in order to legitimately go "on air":

  1. Install the technical framework (studio, technical requirements) for your web radio.
  2. Register an online stream.
  3. Register your web radio with GVL (as well as with GEMA). Use the official GVL registration form to obtain a licence.
  4. If GVL has no objections relating to your registration, you may begin with your broadcasting activities immediately. GVL issues invoices to you on a quarterly basis (retroactively).
  5. If you cease to operate your web radio, you must terminate the GVL contract (and the GEMA contract); this is possible at the end of a month. 

The licence fees are calculated in accordance with GVL's current tariff for webcasting (available here). A distinction is made between commercial and non-commercial services in the tariff. Determining factors for the calculation of licence fees are, among others, the daily broadcasting duration, the average audience size and the number of the music titles stored for webcasting purposes. 

Calculation example  

A web radio that 

  1. broadcasts 12 hours per day via one channel, 
  2. has a sound recording share subject to GVL fees of 81-100%,
  3. has an average of 12 listeners per hours in Germany and 
  4. creates and stores 500 MP3 titles on his hard disk for broadcast operations 

would pay the following: 

EUR 250 broadcasting fees per year 

+ EUR 62.50 reproduction fees for the musical pieces per year (= EUR 0.125 per title/year) 
+ EUR 21.87 equals 7% VAT 

= EUR 334.37 TOTAL (gross)

If you divide this by 12 months, you obtain a GVL licence fee of EUR 27.86 per month. GVL issues an invoice every three months amounting to EUR 83.58. (add to this the GEMA licence fees you need to pay separately).