If you are willing to distribute a cover to all channels, you should provide the corresponding license that allows you to do it.
Why do I have to provide a license in these cases and what happens if I don’t provide it?
Given the new legislation of the MLC* which became effective in 2021, the requirement of a license for covers on certain cases (specially streaming), it is not mandatory anymore in the American territory. Despite the fact that this is not an international paradigma, the appearance of it forces us to review our current view of licensing and its corresponding processes.
Therefore, from this moment, in case there is a release with covers to be distributed, the QC team will keep asking for the corresponding license, without thereby supposing an obligation, but more like a recommendation.
The reasons why the licenses will still be requested are the following:
- It is highly recommended to provide them for download DSPs since the flexible legal terms are related with streaming platforms
- The original authors of the content can exercise their right to prevent the publication of any version or re interpretation of their opus.
Both cases can cause the takedown of the distributed content or the claim from the DSPs.
The transformations (medleys, lyrical or compositional changes, translations, use of original masters, etc.) will still require a mandatory license that must be obtained as an official permission from the editor of the original piece.
How should the license be?
These are licenses provided by services like Easy song licensing, and should look like the attachment of this article.
These are licenses that are issued by both parts involved (owner of the original piece and owner of the cover), and must include, at least, the following:
- Name of the person who is making the cover
- Name of the original piece artist
- Publisher of the original song
- Signature of the original author, or at least the publisher, and the person who is making the cover.
Where can I get a proper license?
- Easy song licensing
- Harry Fox Agency
- Other services
- Permission of the publisher of the original author (official signed document)
*Extra information about the MLC
The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) is a nonprofit organization created to administer blanket mechanical licences to eligible DSPs in the U.S., and to pay the resulting royalties to songwriters, composers, lyricists, and publishers.
It is having a major effect on the way that covers are managed by all agents in the industry since this system allows DSPs to easily license musical works’ reproduction and distribution rights through a more transparent system, making them liable for the licensing process.
Unfortunately, it exclusively operates on the commercialization DSPs make of any given cover in the US territory only, as long as the appropriate authors are correctly listed by the MLC.