How To Get Rights to Cover a Song

If you want to record a song, especially if you plan to make money from it, you need a mechanical license with the copyright holder.If you play live music in clubs, you don’t need a license because the club owner is likely paying a fee to the performing rights organizations for license to use music.Each song needs a mechanical license to be used.If you follow a few basic steps, you can obtain this license.

Step 1: You have to read the label.

The rights holders should be listed on the record or CD label.The initial license is usually made by the copyright holder.If the publisher is listed on the label, contact them.The publisher will let you know if they don’t have the rights to license the music.Contact the copyright owner if the label doesn’t list a publisher.You may need to do an internet search if the rights holder’s contact information is not listed.

Step 2: You can search for the US Library of Congress.

All copyrighted works are maintained by the US Library of Congress.The contact information for the copyright holder will be provided by these records.The information may not be current.You can access this database by entering the name of the song in the search bar and clicking on the publisher’s name.

Step 3: Search for performing rights organizations.

If a song is registered with a performing rights organization, they can give you information about the rights holder.The United States has three major performing rights organizations.You can find it at http://www.bmi.com/search.Under the title, enter the song title.Songs of the same name will be displayed after accepting the terms of service.You might have to click on several until you find the one you are looking for.Click on any highlighted entry for contact information after you locate the song you are looking for.You can enter the song title on the website of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.If the song is registered with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the writer, other performers, and publisher will be displayed.Click on the highlighted entry to get contact information.

Step 4: Call the rights holder.

Give the rights holder a call if you have a telephone number.Talk to someone about getting a mechanical license.Let that person know that you would like to record or perform a song in their catalog.Tell them what medium you plan to use.Tell them how many copies you plan to make.The fee will be per copy.Ask if they have a standard mechanical license.

Step 5: Write to the rights holder.

You can send a letter or email to the rights holder if you have a mailing or e-mail address.Let them know that you are interested in recording a cover of their song.Let them know the format you plan to use.You intend to make and distribute copies.To get a copy of any standard mechanical license agreement they use, ask them to reply to you with the fees that will be charged.For their response, give your best contract information.

Step 6: You can use a third party to contact the rights holder.

You can hire a third party to locate and negotiate your mechanical license.An additional fee is likely to be charged by these third parties.An entertainment attorney can help you understand the licensing agreement.If you have an agent, they may be able to help you get the mechanical license.Some businesses get mechanical licenses.There is an online search for a mechanical license for music.

Step 7: The terms should be negotiated.

The licensing fee is usually a flat fee per sale.The fee is set by law and can change over time.The accounting method for determining when a sale or copy is made is one of the things you want to consider when negotiating the contract.

Step 8: The contract should be signed by you.

The contract must be written and signed after it has been negotiated.It is easier for a court to determine the intent of a contract if it is in writing.The rights holder should sign the contract with you.Both of you should keep a copy of the contract.

Step 9: Keep records accurate.

Keep accurate records of your business activities.If you are the holder of a mechanical license, you should include a record of any sales or copies as defined in the licensing agreement.

Step 10: There are limitations to a mechanical license.

You can use a mechanical license to record and distribute your cover version of a song.CD, tape, digital downloads,ringtones, etc., but not video, can be used to distribute your recording.A mechanical license doesn’t allow things like making a video, reproducing someone else’s sound recording of the song, or printing sheet music.

Step 11: You can contact the publisher.

You can use a license to make a video of your song.The license was granted by the publisher.The Library of Congress can be used to locate information about the publisher.

Step 12: Negotiating the terms is important.

If you only plan to post on YouTube, you should check to see if the publisher participates in the licensing agreement.You don’t need a separate license if your song is included.The percentage of revenue from the video recording will be the licensing fee.The accounting method for determining when a sale or copy is made is one of the things you want to consider when negotiating the contract.

Step 13: The contract needs to be signed.

The contract must be written and signed after it has been negotiated.It is easier for a court to determine the intent of a contract if it is in writing.The rights holder should sign the contract with you.Both of you should keep a copy of the contract.

Step 14: Keep accurate records.

Keep accurate records of your business activities.If you are the holder of a synchronization license, you should include a record of any sales or copies as defined in the licensing agreement.