Streaming 101: what’s the difference between interactive & non-interactive streaming?

You may have heard these terms thrown around, but do you know what they mean? Read on to find out what these two distinct types mean for listeners and artists.

🕹 Interactive streaming

Interactive streaming, also known as ‘on-demand’ streaming, allows listeners to consciously pick and choose which songs they want to listen to; songs can be individually selected, skipped and replayed in any way the listener wants. The deliberate ‘interaction’ with the music is what gives interactive streaming it’s name.

Interactive streaming services include Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal and more.

🤲 Non-interactive streaming

Non-interactive streaming, also known asInternet Radio‘, offers radio-style streaming. Listeners can select playlists or stations generated by algorithms that contain songs based on a specific artist, song or genre.

Listeners have little to no interaction with the music and cannot directly select songs, hence the name ‘non-interactive streaming’. This results in a more casual listening experience, where the user is less fussed about specific songs being played.

Non-interactive streaming services include iHeart Radio, Last.FM and SiriusXM.

🎸 What they mean for artists & songwriters

Both interactive and non-interactive streaming services are required to pay publishing royalties whenever songs are streamed.

If you’re not yet familiar with publishing and who are entitled to publishing royalties, check out our easy-to-read Publishing 101 article.

🤲 Non-interactive streams generate performance royalties. Performance royalties are generated whenever songs are broadcast in public, for example:

– Played in shops, hairdressers, garages etc
– Played in bars, cafes, nightclubs, venues etc
– Live performances, DJ sets etc

. Songwriters and artists can collect these performance royalties by signing up their countries’ Performing Royalties Organisation.

🕹 Interactive streams generate both performance and mechanical royalties. Mechanical royalties are generated whenever a song is reproduced, both physically and digitally.

In the UK, MCPS (now part of PRS for Music), collects and distributes mechanical royalties to songwriters and artists. Each country has a different way of dealing with mechanical royalties so make sure you’re aware of your countries’ collecting agency and how they operate.

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