Over the years, content creators have continued to think of more and more novel ways to work and rework their favorite songs. Not all songs are created equal unfortunately, and different kinds of works require different kinds of licenses. In this article we'll break down which kinds of song require which kinds of licenses, and more importantly what we can and cannot license through Soundrop.
1) Cover Songs:
A cover song is another artist's recording of a song that was previously written, recorded, and released by someone else. Soundrop can help with licensing a cover song provided that the original work has been officially released in the US.
1B) Public Domain (covering really old songs):
If a song's music & lyrics were published before January 1, 1923, then the song is considered in the Public Domain in the US. This means you do not typically need a licensing to release it. To check if your song is in the public domain in the US, you can use this handy tool: pdinfo.com. It’s important to note that it IS possible to copyright a specific arrangement of a public domain song. That means that if you are covering a specific version of a song written before 1923 that was arranged by someone AFTER 1923, you may still need to purchase a mechanical license. It’s best to do as much research on the composition is in the public domain or not.
2) Medleys & Mashups:
A medley is a series of songs or sections of songs recorded into a single track, and may overlap. Soundrop is able to license medleys, provided that they are submitted correctly. You'll want to make sure to list each composition separately during the submission process, and follow medley formatting for track titles:
"Title 1 / Title 2 / Title 3"
Please note that each composition that is covered requires its own mechanical license, and 9.1 cents per download sale will be removed per composition. For a medley of 3 songs 27.3 cents would be removed from each download. The maximum number of compositions allowed are 8, provided you've set the track price to $1.29, as 9 or more compositions will actually pull more money in royalties than you'd stand to earn.
Please note that medleys or mashups that significantly alter the original composition of a song on your medley or mashup may be a derivative work (for more information on derivative works, see section 3). If your medley or mashup alters the original composition of your cover, it may be best to consult a music lawyer!
3) Derivative Works - Translations & Modified Cover Songs:
Any time the fundamental character of the lyrics and/or melody are altered from their original fixed tangible medium, the use falls into a "derivative work", which requires a negotiated royalty rate or fee between the publisher and the music user.
This means that anything with translated lyrics or modified melodies will require a direct license between you and the publisher of the original work. It won't be something that we can license under a standard cover song license.
4) Samples & Remixes:
A sample is a piece of a sound recording that is used in another sound recording. While you can sample and remix your own content, cover song licensing does not extend to sampling and remixing work from other artists.
Similarly, sampling your own cover and then adding that to a different song (what we call "Interpolation") also falls outside of what we are able to license.
in order to clear this type of content, you must obtain permission from the original publisher and the original copyright owner (sometimes this is the same entity, but often it is not). Once you obtain these permissions, you will be asked to provide those permissions to us via email
Creating a parody generally falls under "Fair Use", and you don't always need a cover song license. Keep in mind that there are a number of factors that go into determining whether a song is legally a parody. Note that satirical elements do not necessarily mean that your song is legally a parody. It’s always best to contact a music lawyer to determine if your song falls under fair use. Your ownership only extends to your version, and not to the underlying composition. That being said, artists like Weird Al will still obtain permission from the original artist that they parody to make sure that there's no infringement. Our golden rule is: when in doubt, contact a music lawyer!