How to legally release a cover song and earn royalties

What is a Cover Song?

Covers are different from medleys, remixes and derivatives of songs. Also, covering a song is different from sampling. If you do not make any changes to the original song’s melody, character, or lyrics, a song is considered a cover.

Any material that significantly alters the original song will be considered a “derivative version” and not a “cover”.

How to publish a cover song on Spotify

Now that your cover is done, you can release it on Spotify or other major music platforms.

Many streaming platforms offer blanket licenses for cover songs, so you don’t have to give a license to distribute your music to these services.

However, to distribute your cover to download shops, you will need a mechanical license.

Short:

Streaming platforms are all you need: No license is required.

No mechanical license is required to download platforms.

For the download of cover songs, some countries may require a separate mechanical license. These are the websites you will find them on.

USA: songfile.com

Canada: mrra.ca/

Mexico: emmacsacm.com.mx

Japan: jasrac.or.jp

India and Pakistan: Contact the rights holder directly

You can avoid getting a license for mechanical distribution by distributing only to streaming platforms.

How to release a cover tune using Ditto Music

Now that you have perfected your recording and it is all mixed and mastered, you are ready for the world.

It’s easy to distribute music with Ditto Music. The Release Builder is very easy to use. Let’s go through it.

1. Sign up or log in to Ditto Music first. Next, click on ‘Create New” in the Standard Release box. Enter the name of the cover song.

2. You will be taken to Stage One of Ditto Release Builder. Here, you can upload your artwork and other important information and fill out all the copyright details.

You will need to enter the Copyright Holder field. This includes the name of the songwriter/label that owns the original recording and the Copyright Year, which is the year it was recorded.

Online databases can be used to search for copyright ownership. While we recommend searching Songfile for information, you might also need to search other databases.

3. You can now upload your audio file to Stage Two in MP3 or WAV formats. Upload your mechanical license documentation if you plan to distribute your cover on download platforms.

4. Next, you will need to select your release date and add any additional services like chart registration or pre-release campaigns. Here you can also select the geographic availability, which means that people worldwide can listen to your music.

If you are releasing cover songs for download, geographic availability is crucial. The terms of the mechanical license may differ in different countries.

5. The Release Builder allows you to choose the music platforms you would like to distribute your music to and the price per download.

You can choose the Streaming only option if you don’t own a mechanical license but only wish to distribute your music to streaming platforms.

That’s all! To see your cover song on major music platforms, complete the checkout process.

What is a Mechanical License?

Mechanical licenses are for the payment of mechanical royalties. They are an agreement between a musician and the copyright holder that allows permission to release audio-only music. This applies to both digital and physical audio recordings.

Companies like Harry Fox Agency and Songfile can purchase mechanical licenses.

Songfile has a simple step-by-step process to purchase licenses.

There is one catch.

A mechanical license will typically allow at least 200 downloads. The artist must obtain a new license before the limit is exceeded.


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