This blog explains the different territories you will need to obtain a mechanical license for, in order to distribute your cover songs to these territories.
If you do not obtain a mechanical license you will not be able to distribute your cover songs in these territories.
In America you must purchase a mechanical license in order to release your cover song digitally on stores. This can be done through either Harry Fox Agency (HFA) or through Loudr. Harry Fox Agency offer a database called Songfile, which allows you to search for a license for any song. Please note these services only supply a license for the US.
In Mexico the digital music rights society is called EMMACSACM. This society was formed as a joint venture by two different PRO’S (EMMAC & SACM). Look at their website for a list of publishers that are collected by this society.
Similar to Mexico, Canada has two different PRO groups (CMRRA & SODRAC) that joined to form CSI. In order to release a cover in Canada you must check if the song is represented in CSI’s repertoire.
If it is, you are free to release the cover as the store will organise that the correct mechanical royalty is paid to CSI. If not, you must contact the publisher or copyright holder for that song to apply for a mechanical license. You can check if CSI cover a song license by searching either CMRRA’s or SODRAC’s repertoires.
The PRO for Japan (JASRAC) has a repertoire which you can search for licenses. If you cannot find a song, you can contact JASRAC via email to see if they do represent that song.
India & Pakistan
In order to obtain a mechanical license for a song in India or Pakistan, you need to go directly to the rights holder for that song. This is because neither of these countries have their own PRO that also issues mechanical licenses (IPRS are a PRO in India but do not offer licenses).
Who Do I Need to Credit to Release a Cover Song
When releasing covers you must credit the original songwriters and the publishers. This can be done by entering them in the ‘Composers’ and ‘Publisher’ fields on your release.
You should always try to get permission from the original publisher.
Do not mention the original artist in the track or release title. Phrases such as “originally performed by” or “in the style of” should also not be used.
Please see our “Where to Find Copyright Holders” blog to see tips on how to track down publishers and rights holders for a song.