As an artist, there is a certain joy that comes with making something from scratch and calling it your own. I mean, to see the creation and fulfillment of something that started off in your mind is an amazing feeling.
While it is always a point to make original music for the masses, there are times that you want to give your take to classic hit songs. Because we live in a world where anything is possible, you have the liberty to record a cover song and to legally make money from it.
So let’s review some elements to understand this process better.
What Exactly Is A Cover Song?
This is basically redoing a song (a cover performance) that has been already recorded and commercially released by another artist or artists. Does doing a cover song make you less of an artist? By no means. In fact, some of the greatest songs have been covers. Does “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” ring a bell? The Marvin Gaye hit is the bigger known song but Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded it first. Also, “I Will Always Love You,” exploded on the scene by Whitney Houston, however, Dolly Parton wrote and recorded it first. In Gospel music, Break Every Chain is a staple song of deliverance in African American churches made popular by Tasha Cobbs, but it was originally written and performed by Will Reagan and the United Pursuit in 2009.
How Does Covering A Song Work?
Let’s break down how cover licenses for cover songs work. Copyright Law allows someone to record a song that has been released to the public by an artist. This can happen even without the copyright owner’s permission. The artist will simply need to obtain a mechanical license…or the proper term is compulsory mechanical license. Even though ANYONE can cover a song Copyright Law does not allow the new artist to change lyrics, melody, or fundamental character of the song without permission.
What...I have to PAY royalty fees?
The short answer for this…yep! If you cover someone’s song you will have to provide monthly royalty reports and pay a royalty fee based on the number of downloads/CDs sold. Songfile gave a very easy to understand breakdown of the royalty rates.
Where to Get A License
There are a few ways to legally cover a song AND release it as your own.
$13.99 for 6-10 songs
$12.99 for 11 – 20 songs
$11.99 for 21+ songs
Songfile charges $16 service fee for one song,
$14 for 6+ songs.
Loudr charges $15 service fee for one song,
$14 for 6-10 songs
$13 for 11- 20 songs
$12 for 21-50 songs
$11 for 51-100 songs
$10 for 101+ songsListen, it’s so important to do things the legal way. We recently saw what can happen when artists sample a song without consent in the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit brought against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. They had to pay the estate of Marvin Gaye over $7 million!
Remember that there is always a business side to the creative process. It is important to make sure everything is covered so you can do what you do best- create.
l am a little nerdy, a little quirky, a little glam, with a whole lot of personality! A wife with four children and a furry puppy, there is never a dull moment.