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How do I release a cover song?

December 8, 2020

Many artists get a lot of attention by uploading their versions of well-known songs to YouTube, Soundcloud and so on. But it’ also possible to release cover songs officially. We show you how.

Releasing a cover song is tricky because you are neither the composer nor the lyricist of the song and therefore you have no rights to the track. But with a successful cover version you can quickly win new listeners. Fortunately you only have to consider a few points to release your version legally.

Your song is only considered a cover if you stick very closely to the original. This means that melody, lyrics and song structure may not be changed. If your version differs too much from the original, it’s considered an adaptation and then you have to get the permission of the copyright holder in any case. It’s also not allowed to use samples or release a remix without permission.

Cover versions can be published without permission. The following aspects have to be considered additionally.

  • Enter the composers as well as lyricists of the original song when you add the song to your distributor.
  • Also mark the song as a cover when you register it (but not in the song title).
  • Register the song with the responsible collecting society
  • The original song must be registered with a collecting society. If not, you must obtain the permission of the rights holder.
  • If you want to publish the song physically, you may have to obtain a license from the collecting society.
  • Exception: In the USA a permit or a mechanical license is required in any case. You either have to get the permission or you exclude the USA from the delivery.
  • Other exceptions: Canada, Mexico, India and Pakistan. It’s best to exclude these countries as well.
  • Exception to the exception: If you deliver the cover song only to Spotify, Deezer and Pandora, you can select all countries, because these stores take care of the mechanical license directly.

It’s also important to know that the copyright share is paid in full to the text authors and composers of the original. However, the sales revenue remains with you.

If you follow all these rules, all you really have to do now is find out which song would suit you as an artist.

For more information, please contact the support team at iGroove or get in touch with the respective collecting society.

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