Can covers be copyrighted [From Experts]

Last updated : Aug 30, 2022
Written by : Woodrow Spargo
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Can covers be copyrighted

Is a cover copyright free?

Book covers, album covers, and movie covers are copyrightable. However, fair use, a provision of U.S. copyright law, gives users the right to use copyrighted material without permission under certain circumstances. If a use is fair, the user need not notify or seek permission from the copyright holder.

Do I need permission to cover a song?

You Don't Need Permission to Cover a Song A common misconception in the music industry is that you need to receive permission from the original composer in order to record a cover version of their song. However, US copyright law makes it much easier than that for artists wishing to cover a piece of music.

How can I legally cover a song?

If you want to record and release your own cover version of someone else's song, then you'll need a “mechanical license” for your cover song. A mechanical license is the right to make copies of the song's musical structure such as the lyrics and notes, which is called the musical composition.

Do artists make money from covers?

Performing cover songs can be a lucrative gig—especially if you're good. But if you haven't paid royalties or secured the rights to perform them, you could be in trouble. An original song is a great example of copyrighted material.

How do cover bands avoid copyright?

Most of the time, bands don't need to worry about licenses. It's an industry standard that the venues acquire what are known as public performance rights through blanket licenses, which allow copyrighted songs, including covers of them, to be played at that location.

Can I release a cover song for free?

If a cover song is given away for free, permission from the copyright holder doesn't need to be obtained. Myth #1 is a common misconception. If you are recording a cover song, you're required to get a license from the copyright owner, regardless of whether you are going to sell it or give it away for free.

Can you cover a song and sell it?

To record a song for release to the public, a performer must obtain permission from the music publisher of the song and pay a fee, called a mechanical royalty. A mechanical royalty must be paid when songs are reproduced, for example on compact discs or records.

How much does it cost to cover a song?

The statutory mechanical royalty rates are set by the Copyright Royalty Board. Currently, the statutory mechanical royalty rate for physical formats (CDs, cassettes, LPs) and permanent digital downloads (e.g. iTunes) is 9.1¢ for songs 5 Minutes or less or 1.75¢ per minute or fraction thereof for songs over 5 Minutes.

Is it cheaper to license a cover song?

Cover versions are also cheaper to licence than the original recording as the master recording is available at much lower licensing costs.

Who gets royalties for a cover?

The composers of the songs will get royalties, no matter who sings the song – but the performer only gets royalties if they're the one singing on the recording. Maybe this is a new income stream for cover bands.

Is being a cover band illegal?

From a legal standpoint, any band can cover a song during a live performance, as a result of blanket licenses obtained and paid for by venue owners to performance rights organizations (PROs) such as SOCAN in Canada and ASCAP or BMI in the United States.

Do I need a license to release a cover on Spotify?

INCLUDING A COVER SONG ON YOUR OWN ALBUM You don't need a license if you are releasing a cover strictly on streaming platforms. Services like Spotify and Apple Music license songs and pay royalties to publishers as part of The MLC (The Mechanical Licensing Collective) that was launched in 2019.

Do you pay royalties for cover songs?

But if you do cover a song, you must pay a royalty to the song's creator (that's the licensing part). What's more, the royalty rate is always the same—it's “statutory,” meaning fixed and not subject to individual negotiation—no matter who covers the song and how many (or few) copies they sell.

Can I use a cover song in my film?

When you record a cover of a copyrighted song, you must get permission from the composer (or current copyright holder of the composition). In the United States, however, you can compel the copyright holder to grant you license under 17 USC §115.

Can artists sing covers at concerts?

No. The royalty rules are different based on the medium (live or recorded), but you never need an artist's permission to cover a song.

Are piano covers copyrighted?

A cover song needs to get permission, or a license, from the copyright holders in order to record it or use it in any way. Once you create a licensed cover and record it, it is now copyrighted and you can register your copyright.

How long are songs copyrighted?

As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.

Can I use a melody from another song?

You can't take someone's melody or lyrics and call them your own. Most songwriters know, though, that chord progressions aren't generally protected by copyright.

How do cover songs make money?

  1. Pandora. Pandora can let you make money off the cover songs you record via SoundExchange.
  2. Streaming (Interactive) Sites such as Apple Music and Spotify will pay you for your cover song recordings.
  4. YouTube.
  5. Sirus XM.
  6. Bandcamp and Patreon.

Can I release a cover song on CD Baby?

What happened to CD Baby's Cover Song Licensing service? CD Baby no longer licenses cover songs directly, but we'll continue to support and pay mechanical royalties for all tracks that were previously licensed through our cover song licensing service.

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Can covers be copyrighted

Comment by Delinda Eibell

what's up guys damian keys here welcome back to the channel so releasing covers on youtube used to be the big game if you look at boyce avenue or tile award or postmodern jukebox that was the best way of actually getting the organic growth when you are a musician or a band trying to get traction onto youtube the problem is the industry has caught up and while done well a good cover on youtube can really make or break it can really build your brand and your organic growth but done badly it can result in copyright strikes or potentially even worse so in today's video i want to go into everything you need to know legally to be putting out covers on youtube for example what about demonetization what's the difference between demonetization and having something blocked what licenses do you need and how do you get those licenses and obviously the big one which is what exactly is fair use especially in 2020 so strap yourself in because this one's gonna be a big one nice so back in the day which was a wednesday well before streaming it was a relatively straightforward process if you wanted to cover someone's song because you would need permission from the owner in order to record that song and put that on a physical piece of content like a cd or vinyl which then would go out to shops and people would buy it ah those days but then came along streaming and then came along youtube and all of a sudden fair use came into play which is when are you allowed to use someone's cover and when aren't you allowed to use someone's cover that would mean in order to get permission you would need a license so do you need a license to upload a cover of someone else's song on youtube well technically the answer is yes however quite a lot of artists and labels are pretty cool with you recording covers and putting them on youtube but some artists and some labels are not so cool with it like very very very not cool with it there are three possibilities that happen when you upload a cover to youtube number one nothing happens either they don't see it or they do see it and they say hey you knock yourself out have a great time covering our song it's some extra publicity from us have some fun number two is it gets claimed which we'll talk about a bit more and in which case it becomes demonetized and number three it becomes blocked it becomes removed off youtube and what was there is all of a sudden not as there as it once was demonetised is where the artist or the copyright holder receives the money generated from that content that you would receive effectively what happens is you make the content but it features someone else's song therefore they make a claim and that takes away some or all of the money that you would have generated and it goes straight to the copyright holder now blocked is where the artist or label can say not only do we not care about the money even if there is some but we don't want that on youtube at all and so therefore it can have that video removed so therefore you will get a notification saying really sorry but you don't own the material in this video therefore it has been blocked you can then appeal but also you can get a copyright strike so what happens if you're not making any money from that cover let's say you're a youtuber who says i don't have enough subs to monetize my channel i just want to make a really great cover to give it to my audience does that make a difference sadly it doesn't make any difference whatsoever because technically you don't own the material that you used in that piece of content so the rights holder has every right to stop you doing that even if you aren't making any money at all you don't have to make financial gain for that to become something illegal all you have to do is use somebody else's property so then it comes down to will you get caught and how do you get caught which there are several ways for example youtube as well as every other social media platform has some automated inbuilt software a little bit like shazam that can match up tracks and say hang on these are very similar but let's say you change the tempo you change the key maybe you change the melody you can completely change a lot of the track and then you make it your own something like say postmodern jukebox does that make a difference no absolutely not because therefore it is still the property of somebody else so whether you're doing a drum cover and you're playing along to a track or whether you're doing a karaoke track and singing along to it technically you don't own the rights and it can be claimed whether that is automatically or whether that is someone from a company seeing it and putting in a physical copyright claim on your track so now we are getting into publishing rights instead of recording rights rather than saying i'm just using that track and i'm taking that version of it and playing it i'm completely recreating it this is now publishing now the difference with this means even if you change everything you might change the melody you might change the production but it's still the same song it still means you are in breach because you are using elements of that song so what comes under these publishing rights well for example if you use the lyrics that's a no-no if you write down the lyrics and put them on the screen that's a no-no if you hum the melody that's a big no-no so effectively you can't use someone else's track under any circumstances on youtube apart from under fair use the big labels literally hire teams of people to go through youtube and other social media platforms to find copyright strikes because they know there is a lot of money can you imagine out of all of the thousands of uploads on youtube every single day can you imagine how many beatles covers there are can you imagine how many rolling stones covers they are can you imagine how many ac dc covers there are so therefore there are teams of people searching them out giving them copyright strikes taylor swift cover no taylor swift cover no taylor swift cover no and it's huge business so labels know that and therefore they hire teams of people to go searching so what happens if you want to get a license let's say you are doing a cover not just for youtube but you would like to take this across all streaming platforms so you figure you should probably get a license well in which case let's talk about music licensing am i cool or am i cool the first license we need to talk about is a mechanical license the mechanical license is for the audio and this allows the property to be used so therefore that means it's stuff like cds vinyls itunes ring and also streaming services but this is where you have the choice of what you choose to listen to i choose to go and get that cd i choose to listen stuff on streaming now this is different to radio because that's performance rights you don't actually choose what you listen to on the radio even if you choose which radio station you listen to so the mechanical license is basically covering everything audio that you get to choose that you listen to then there's a sync license now a sync license is very similar to a mechanic

Thanks for your comment Delinda Eibell, have a nice day.
- Woodrow Spargo, Staff Member

Comment by Tad

okay so you're doing or what to do covers and remixes for you too but the problem is everyone's telling you eh you can't make any money with those videos be YouTube's gonna take those videos down and ban your channel and see the labels going to claim that make all this money and all this adsense revenue off of your video in your hard work and that's a problem I'd be concerned too I was in the past I figured it out and this is how you do it what's going on guys ad on my visa here to help you go further faster in your music career by sharing proof and marketing techniques and strategies to take that passion for making music and turn it into a legitimate business that's gonna provide you with freedom and fulfillment to the most important things in life in general and I'm a living breathing testament to that now what I want to talk about is a real quick little subject that I'm getting a lot of questions about that I just want to kind of give some clarity to you guys about and that's cover music cover songs on YouTube are incredibly popular it's one way to really build up your brand rapidly get more traffic now there's two ways primarily to get traffic in your music career to your music and that's walking in front of traffic or buying into traffic now buying into traffic obviously is paid ads and you're putting your face everywhere in your music everywhere on the internet and on social media just to be able to get people to kind of pay attention to you now stepping in front of the traffic is a little bit more strategic and methodical in the sense of finding other artists that are kind of a similar fit to what you're looking for for an audience and then that's a great way to start doing cover music or a great reason why you would be doing cover music now one question I am receiving a lot of is Adam how do I make money off of covers if I'm just doing covers how do I make any money off of that YouTube will take them down right I won't get paid right kind of one thing I want to bring up to you is a cover music cover songs covers on YouTube Instagram tick tock for that matter are going to be eyes and ear attractors right it's going to be the hook that you're pulling an audience in with so technically upfront you might not get paid a whole lot for covers but if you're doing gigs if you're doing shows and festivals and if you're trying to build an audience which could then lead to merch sales could then get a little bit of money from those covers itself on YouTube for that matter for as far as on Adsense revenue then the upfront isn't going to be as abundant as if you were selling 99-cent singles or if you were getting millions of streams or if you were doing a lot of different shows just on a whim even busking for that matter could bring more immediate income in but that's not the point the point is covers are going to attract people to you then you can put out those originals and make money on that end but can you make money on YouTube and where ever with covers without getting them taken down without getting demonetised without getting a copyright strike yes there are companies out on the internet one in particular that I'm very familiar with is we are the hits I'll have their link down in my description box now what we are the hits are what they specialize in is they partnered with several different labels Sony RCA Universal just the name a couple and they have rights for you as a user through we are the hits to be able to post covers on YouTube and then what you do is supposed to cover on YouTube you copy the URL for that video you go over to we are the hits after you have a membership and all that then you paste it into the box of what you're doing so it's kind of like telling the label telling the label through we are the hits what you're up to and that yes hey I'm a member of this service we are the heads and I'm not affiliated with them I don't have any affiliate link with you guys or for you guys I'm not making any money they're not a sponsor by any means but this is one way that a lot of my students have been able to monetize their covers as well as some parodies and whatnot that kind of fit in that gray area of being able to get permission now we are the hits is just one there are several others out there just do a quick Google search or find alternatives but what it is is it's going to allow you to have those rights it's not going to demonetized your channel you're not gonna get a copyright strike you're going to make a little bit of money are you gonna make a ton probably not but that's not the point here what we want to do is we want to use covers as an attractor or an attractant I don't know anyway so you bring people into your ecosystem and your channel and then you do requests you do top Billboard 40 hits that are on the radio right now we're climbing the charts because that's going to be able to get traffic to you so that people are watching your and say wow I really like you know what they're doing what else do they have and that's when you can draw a real fan base very quickly based off of your talents and your quirks and your personality and your your aesthetics and what you look like I mean let's face that this is show business so you know one thing I want you guys to understand is that when you go on the hits we are the heads they're not going to have every single song in existence on there they're only going to have songs listed that they have legal rights to through their partnerships with these labels so if you're wondering you know hey what do I do a cover on they actually have a tool on there that'll show you the top charts in that moment so you could say hey these are trending these are the top ones these are ones that people are really really into and vibing with right now and that's a couple ways that you can make the money from these cover songs I have several students who are kind of cover artists and I don't think anyone wants to be under that umbrella and that stigma as cover artist so what I would suggest doing is do two to three covers and then add an original depending on the frequency in which you're gonna be releasing new music if you have five songs ready to go that's awesome two to three different covers and then drop an original that builds hype builds momentum and builds discoverability especially here on YouTube because what it does is it shows YouTube that you have valuable content that people are searching for that people are staying you know retainer tended to retention return them the term I'm looking for is audience retention so the longer you're on a video the more you're going to be rewarded from YouTube by showing that video to others that's why audience retention rates are so important and what that being said if you guys want me to do a full blown tutorial on building a channel as an artist or a producer or just any music creative in general here on YouTube all the best practices and little little tips and tricks and the strategy behind it let me know in the comments below say Adam we want that YouTube thing let's have some fun guys if you haven't yet I want you to watch this vid

Thanks Tad your participation is very much appreciated
- Woodrow Spargo

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