Hidden Truth Music is here to reveal the traps in the music industry so that you can succeed in being an independent artist.
Please note that the below is not official legal advice, it is ONLY for the U.S.A., we are not your lawyers, and you should always contact your attorney before entering into any contract such as a license.
If you have recorded a cover version of someone else's song, and you plan to make that recording available over the Internet, the following information applies to you.
You must follow these steps BEFORE you make your recording available for distribution to the public!
If you record a cover version of a song, (meaning your performance of a song that has been released in the U.S. with consent of the copyright owner), you are entitled by law to release your recording commercially, and the owner of the copyright to the song cannot prevent you from doing so.
The Copyright Act provides for what is called a “Compulsory License” for downloads and CD sales, which means that if you follow the steps set forth by statute, you can distribute your recording of that song on a CD or over the internet. This Compulsory License is only available for sales in the United States. Other uses of masters, such as streaming, conditional downloads, and the like, are not subject to a Compulsory License. A separate license from the publisher is needed in those cases.
The following details the procedure for individuals to obtain a compulsory license to digitally distribute cover songs over the Internet to end users in the United States.
The first step is to identify the owner(s) of the copyright to the song. The publisher.
The easiest way to do this is to search the song writer/publisher databases, here:
Keep in mind that the owner of these rights is typically a publisher, and that the owner of the rights in the song is not the same as the owner of the rights to any particular recording of the song. In other words, Record Labels are almost never the owners of the copyright to the musical composition - they typically own only sound recordings. You should be looking for the name of a publisher (or in some cases an individual).