How to Legally Release a Cover Song on Spotify, Apple Music & Co.

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Releasing a cover vocal often raises questions and anxieties regarding legal aspects. The specter of copyright infringement can be a significant hurdle for many aspiring artists. Yet, it’s essential to understand that navigating this path is feasible, and covering a song can serve as a launching pad for career success. But how to officially release a cover song?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll guide you through the process of legally releasing you cover songs on popular streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and more. If you’ve ever contemplated sharing your distinctive take on a well-known track with the world, continue reading to unveil the key to unlocking your musical potential and buy exceptional cover vocals on our website.

Why Opt for a Cover Vocal?

In today’s music landscape, creating cover songs can be a strategic move. It enables you to tap into an existing audience, attract new fans, and capture the attention of music professionals in search of cover songs. Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced producer, crafting cover songs can significantly boost your exposure. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the legal aspects before embarking on this journey.

No Need for Permission to Cover a Song!

A common misconception in the music industry is the belief that explicit permission from the original composer is required to create a cover version. Thankfully, US copyright law incorporates “compulsory licensing,” simplifying this process. It empowers artists to legally craft cover songs without the need for permission.

Obtaining a Mechanical License for Digital Releases

To legally produce with a cover song, securing a “mechanical license” is essential. Originally, this term pertained to physical formats like CDs and vinyl. However, in today’s digital age, it extends to digital downloads, including MP3s.

Artists must estimate the number of units they plan to distribute and prepay the necessary royalties. For example, if you anticipate selling 1,000 units at a royalty rate of 9.1 cents, the cost would be $91. To ensure compliance with digital downloads, maintain records and purchase additional licenses upon reaching your projected sales volume. Conveniently, our website offers an accessible way to purchase cover vocals.

Why Opt for a Cover Vocal?

Releasing a cover song can be a pivotal stepping stone in advancing your music career. By leveraging the popularity of an existing track and infusing it with your unique interpretation, musicians can expand their audience and showcase their distinctive style while paying homage to the artists and bands they admire.

Throughout music history, numerous artists have reimagined existing songs, leading to the discovery of new talents and the revival of forgotten gems.

Navigating Copyrights as an Independent Artist:

While many musicians perform covers during live performances, the prospect of releasing their interpretations online can appear daunting due to the complexities of copyright in today’s music industry.

However, rest assured that the process is more manageable than it seems. This guide will elucidate the steps required to publish your take on someone else’s track on Spotify and other leading platforms, presenting substantial opportunities to expand your audience.

Understanding Cover Songs: What Constitutes a Cover Song?

A cover song, in essence, is a composition reinterpreted by an artist who isn’t the original composer. The artist creating the cover can employ the same chords, melody, lyrics, or a portion of the original recording to craft a new piece that is, to some extent, derivative.

Digital and Physical Distribution: Making Your Cover Song Available

Suppose you’ve recently recorded a cover song and aim to share it with a global audience. Thanks to The Musical Works Modernization Act, the process of releasing a cover song has become more streamlined compared to a decade ago. However, to ensure a smooth release and avoid legal complications, you must follow a set of essential steps.

For streaming platforms like Spotify, in many countries, you may not need a specific license. Your chosen digital distributor, whether it’s DistroKid, Ditto, or RouteNote, will handle the royalties owed to the original songwriter and deduct them from your earnings. However, there’s a caveat – if you intend to make your cover song available in regions like the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, or Pakistan, obtaining a mechanical license directly from the copyright owner is a necessary step in the process.

The Mechanical License: Your Passport to Global Distribution

To present your songs to a global audience on platforms where music can be downloaded, a mechanical license is indispensable. This legal agreement grants you the authority to release and distribute a copyrighted song. Before embarking on this path, it’s critical to possess a comprehensive understanding of the copyright ownership of the cover vocal you intend to release, including details about the songwriter, label, and year of publication. It’s prudent to rely on our website for a simplified mechanical license acquisition process.

How to Upload Cover Songs Online

Every distribution platform operates by its unique set of guidelines, particularly when dealing with cover songs. To provide a practical example, let’s walk through the process using DistroKid, a highly regarded music distributor recognized for its user-friendly interface.

When you’re prepared to upload your track, navigate to the “Cover Vocal” section, where you’ll discover the option labeled “Another artist wrote it.” Opt for this choice and furnish all the necessary information diligently. Maintaining precision is absolutely critical, as any inaccuracies in the details of copyright ownership could result in the removal of your music from the platform. Regarding song titles, DistroKid advises using the original title without adding the name of the original composer. Once your upload is finalized, you can expect a processing period of up to 14 working days as the distributor meticulously clears the copyright and prepares to release your song online.

Collecting Royalties

Following the release of your cover song on Spotify, as the number of plays climbs, questions may arise about royalty distribution. It’s essential to comprehend the revenue structure.

As the reinterpreter of the song, you aren’t the rightful holder of the original composition, meaning you aren’t entitled to publishing royalties for that song. These royalties belong exclusively to the owner of the publishing rights. In contrast, you possess the master rights to your version of the song, entitling you to royalties whenever your cover song is streamed, purchased, or broadcasted.

The allocation of royalties varies depending on a multitude of factors, including the type of distributor and the artist’s country of origin.

Final Thoughts: Your Path to Exposure

In summary, releasing a cover song primarily serves the purpose of increasing your exposure. While revenue expectations may not always be met, broadening your audience through songs with cover vocals can catapult your career and create the momentum needed for success. Executing the process correctly is of paramount importance. It’s crucial to understand who manages the royalties for the song you’ve covered and how your selected music distribution platform handles mechanical rights.

Your musical journey is a unique and artistic path, and we’re here to help you make it unforgettable. At our website, we’re passionate about providing you with high-quality cover vocals that will not only breathe new life into your creative projects but also amplify your artistic expression. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned musician, our collection of cover vocals is ready to become a part of your musical story. 

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