Exploring the Dynamics of Interactive and Non-Interactive Music Streaming

There is no question that most music is consumed today via streaming. But did you know that there are different types of streaming? The differences are really important to music creators and rightsholders because they impact how licensing works and royalties flow. The two types of streaming are interactive streamings and non-interactive streamings. 

So, what’s the difference?  


Interactive streaming refers to a digital transmission of a sound recording that places the power of choice in the hands of the listener. Platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music provide examples of this experience, allowing users to curate their musical journey by selecting which sound recordings to stream and determining the order in which they're played. 


Imagine creating a custom playlist for your morning workout, seamlessly transitioning from a high-energy track to a mellower tune for cooling down. This level of control over the listening experience describes interactive streaming. Interactive streaming empowers users to curate soundtracks that resonate with their emotions, activities and preferences. 


Non-interactive streaming refers to a digital transmission of a sound recording where the consumer has limited control over which sound recording to stream, in what order it appears and how many times to stream it — similar to a radio broadcast. An example of this is the user experience offered by Pandora Radio and SiriusXM, providing listeners with curated playlists or stations based on their music preferences.  


Non-interactive streaming captures the essence of musical discovery. It introduces listeners to songs they might not have stumbled upon otherwise, exposing them to new genres, artists, and styles.  


Why does this difference matter?  


At The MLC, we grant licenses to, and collect and distribute royalties from, digital service providers (DSPs) for interactive streams, limited downloads, and permanent downloads. However, it's important to note that The MLC does not grant licenses to, nor collect royalties from, DSPs for non-interactive streams. Non-interactive streams do not require mechanical licenses but do require other types of licenses. The coexistence of these two streaming modes offers users the freedom to tailor their experiences to suit their moods and activities.