A cover song is a recording that you make of another song that was previously recorded and released by a first artist. Some examples of popular cover songs are:
- Alessia Cara’s cover of “I’m Like A Bird'' by Nelly Furtado
- Adele’s cover of “Lovesong” by The Cure
- George Michael’s cover of “They Won’t Go When I Go” by Stevie Wonder
With cover songs, you can change the production or arrangement of the original song. However, it is not allowed to change the lyrics, with the exception of changing pronouns (“he” to “she”, or vice versa). The key principle of recording a cover song is to preserve the essence of the original composition.
In order to distribute a cover song to music stores and streaming platforms, the artist covering the song must first obtain a *mechanical license. This is required in order to ensure that the original songwriters are fairly compensated.
Any digital distributor who provides in-house cover song licensing will likely charge a fee to do so. Trac currently does not offer mechanical licensing services, but you can purchase a mechanical license through a third party. Here are some licensing services that we recommend:
Once you obtain your license, please send any documents to email@example.com so we can verify that you are cleared to release your cover recording. When you are submitting your release, be sure to also credit the original composers/lyricists in the credits field of your track.
IMPORTANT: If you have a cover song that you plan to release only on streaming services and exclusively in the United States, then you do not need to purchase a mechanical license. If this is the case, The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) will pay out any royalties to the original composers or publishers.
*A mechanical license grants the rights to reproduce and distribute musical works embodied in sound recordings via CDs, records, tapes, ringtones, permanent digital downloads, interactive streams and other digital configurations, including locker-based music services and bundled music offerings. If you want to record and distribute a musical work that you don’t own or control, or if your business requires the distribution of a musical work that was written by others, you need to obtain a mechanical license. (Source: Harry Fox Agency)
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or further assistance