Licensing a Cover Song (Be Happy… it’s easy) Reply

If you want to cover a song on an album you will need to obtain a MECHANICAL license. The good news is that user-friendly tools are available to help you get the licenses you need. If you are an indie artist, attorney with a hankering to release an album, church group, or other musical group… you can use the online licensing services offered by Limelight (at to obtain mechanical licenses.


  • You need a mechanical license before distributing a recording containing a song or composition that you didn’t write.
  • The most common mechanical uses are digital downloads, CD’s and ringtones.
  • You need to secure mechanical licenses even if you are giving your CD’s, downloads and ringtones away for free.
  • Limelight’s Pricing Calculator estimates that the cost to license a song for 100 CD’s is $24.10 and for 100 CD’s + 100 digital downloads is $48.20. (this cost includes the royalty fee and Limelight’s service fee) – check out the calculator at


  • Good idea to check with Limelight even if you think that you are using a work that is in the Public Domain… because, you want to make sure that you are not using a copyrighted arrangement of a Public Domain work
  • If you wish to license a song or Master recording to use with a film or other visual content (including YouTube videos), the type of license that you need is a SYNCHRONIZATION license. (Contact the publisher directly for a synch license).
  • If you are including a recording of someone else’s music in your album (for example within a track or as an instrumental line) you need a MASTER USE license, need to clear the publishing/composition rights AND secure a mechanical license.

See also,; Rights Flow at; Three Myths About Music Sampling at; Copyright Is Valuable – The Happy Birthday Song Earns $2 Million a Year at and @iplegalfreebies and

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.


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