A remix is a re-working of an already existing song using elements of said song, including instrumental stems, vocal stems, etc. Some examples of popular remixes are:
- Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness (Cedric Gervais Remix)
- The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)
- Lady Gaga - Marry the Night (Zedd Remix)
- Florence + The Machine - Spectrum (Say My Name) [Calvin Harris Remix]
- The Weeknd - The Hills (RL Grime Remix)
Releasing remixes is legally different from releasing a cover song. Because you are using existing elements of the original song, you cannot use a mechanical license (these are only applicable to new recordings of the original song). Instead, you require a Master license, which grants you permission to use the musical composition and the Master recording of that composition.
Master licenses are a bit more challenging to acquire, as you need direct permission from the owners of the composition and Master recording. Who would that be anyway?
If the artist you are remixing is signed to a major label, you’ll likely want to contact the record label of said artist (i.e. Ariana Grande remixes must ask for permission from Republic Records, Billie Eilish remixes from Interscope, Bruno Mars remixes from Atlantic, etc.). Since the label also manages the publishing side of their music, they will likely be a one-stop-shop for licenses. If the label shows interest, they might even send you the stems of the song! However, it is very likely that they will ask for a cut of the royalties and/or a flat fee for the Master license. The price they might ask for is unknown; that will depend on many different factors.
If the artist you are remixing is an independent artist and/or owns their own Master recordings and publishing, you can simply just reach out to them directly. Most smaller independent artists, labels, and publishers will be willing to negotiate prices and royalties for a Master license. Some might even license their music for free. All you have to do is ask!
Some third parties do offer customized services to obtain Master licenses from labels and publishers. Trac currently does not offer mechanical licensing services, but here are some licensing services that we recommend:
Once you obtain your license, please send any documents to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can verify that you are cleared to release your remix. When you are submitting your release, be sure to also credit the original composers/lyricists in the credits field of your track. You must also use the original artist name in the artist field and only include your name in the version field.
Another kind of “remix” is one where additional featured artists are added to an existing recording, where the lyrics and production are rarely modified:
- Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee - Despacito (feat. Justin Bieber) [Remix]
- The Weeknd - Save Your Tears (with Ariana Grande) [Remix]
- Dua Lipa - Levitating (feat. DaBaby)
- Megan Thee Stallion - Savage Remix (feat. Beyonce)
If your remix looks more like this, you are in essence “remixing” your own song. Therefore, a Master license is not required. Simply be sure to credit the featured artists.
Please reach out to email@example.com if you have any questions or need further assistance