How to Release a Cover Song: The 5 Step Cover Song Licensing Checklist

cover song

Do you want to know how to release a cover song? It’s not as difficult as you may assume.

The fun and simple part is recording. However, in order to get it out there, you’ll need a distribution plan that works for your cover song as well as a mechanical license.

The fact is that for independent musicians, commercially releasing a cover song may be difficult. But don’t worry.

In 5 simple steps, you’ll learn everything you need to know to have your cover songs legally distributed.

1. Pick the perfect song

How do you decide which music to cover? There is no precise science.

However, there are various techniques to consider while selecting your cover material.

Here are some suggestions for selecting a song to cover:

  • Share an influence that your followers may not be aware of.
  • Rework a classic to make a point.
  • Change the genre of a song to reveal its heart.
  • Choose a song that you find difficult and utilize it to hone your own talents.
  • Cover a song that has been stuck in your head and try to find out why it is so catchy.

Whatever you decide, make an informed decision. Don’t choose a song only because you believe it will receive a large number of streams.

Choose a song that will teach you something simply by listening to it and recording it.

2. Make sure it’s still a cover

A cover song is a recording of a previously published song that retains the original composition (lyrics, melody, and song structure).

If you change your cover too frequently, it may cease to be a cover…

Cover song licensing does not include:

  • Remixes
  • Samples
  • Mashups

Keep it as a cover and stay faithful to the original composition. This will assist you in avoiding headaches when releasing.

3. Find the right mechanical license

To distribute your covers, you must have a mechanical license.

Mechanical licenses ensure that your covers are lawful to distribute and that everyone who is owed money is reimbursed.

However, without assistance, licensing cover songs can be a tremendous hassle—the conditions are sometimes complicated and time-consuming.

Fortunately, digital distribution has simplified and expedited the acquisition of cover music licensing for all major streaming platforms.

A mechanical license can be obtained in a variety of ways. As a result, your best chance is to keep it as basic and inexpensive as feasible.

cover song

4. Lock down the details

To publish a cover song, you must first input some information.

If you’re not sure where to go for the correct information for your covers, Songfile is a wonderful place to start.

Simply search for your cover song and collect the following information:

The original song title

Enter the title of the original song you’re covering. Avoid the urge to add flavor to the title. Keep to the facts.

Don’t use the words “(cover)” or “cover version” in the title. All you need is the original title.

At least one original songwriter

You covered a song by your favorite band, but have you ever looked at who wrote it?

It’s conceivable that the credited songwriter isn’t who you think he or she is. No issue; simply search for your song in the Songfile database to obtain the necessary information.

Make certain that you get it properly. This is the information used to decide who gets paid. It’s going to be a problem if the track isn’t properly acknowledged!

The original performing artist

When you release your cover song, be sure to include the original performing artist.

This one is simple. Simply type in the name of the artist you’re covering, and you’re done!

5. Think about where it’s gonna live

Is it a one-off? Is there a deep cut on your album? Or is it for a collection or playlist? Is it a Christmas song cover?

Consider where your cover music will reside once it has been distributed. This will assist you in determining a release date and preparing to share your music.

If it’s on an album, your approach will be the same as your album’s release strategy. Not sure where it should go on your album? For more pointers, check out our album sequencing guide.

Consider creating a playlist or story around your cover if it is a single for your social media outlets. Don’t keep it hidden. Inform your followers if you cover something!

No matter how you distribute it, choose the appropriate place for your cover songs before licensing them, and always share with caution.

cover song

Crimson and Cover

Cover songs are an excellent method to add innovation and excitement to your library.

Furthermore, easy cover song licensing allows you to concentrate on the enjoyable part: recording and publishing.

So consider when you release your cover song using these 5 simple steps, and make covers a part of your workflow.

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