What do I need to release a cover song?

What is a cover song?

A cover is your own version of someone else’s song. This can include the lyrics, melody or both. The cover can be true to the original or your own interpretation, bringing new life to an older song. 

What is a cover licence? 

Every song has 2 types of copyright attached to it. The first is the master copyright, also referred to as the sound recording. This is usually owned by the person or company who financed the recording of the track, so if you’ve recorded your own version of a song then the master copyright is likely owned by you. 

The second type of copyright is the publishing or composition copyright. This is what protects the lyrics, melody, notes, rhythm and harmonies. When you cover someone else’s song, as you have not written it yourself you are therefore using someone else’s publishing copyright. A cover licence is needed to ensure you have permission from the original owner of the publishing copyright to distribute your own version of the track. 

Who pays for the cover license?

Streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer will pay the cover licence fee to the original publishing copyright owner on your behalf. This means that you don’t need to obtain a cover licence if you choose to distribute to streaming platforms only. 

However, if you wish to also include download platforms like iTunes and Amazon Music, you will be required to obtain a cover licence yourself. This cover licence will allow you to have your cover song downloaded a certain number of times. 

Where can I get a cover license?

We recommend obtaining your cover license from our preferred partners at Affordable Song Licensing. Affordable Song Licensing is an artist-operated cover song licensing agency that has the lowest fees online. For more information on licensing, you can visit their website here.