Cover Version License License

Cover Version License License

Cover version License at Songbay


In response to numerous requests from both buyers and sellers, we have simplified the options for buyers wishing to make their own cover versions of songs and lyrics at Songbay.

How it works:
The United States Copyright Act allows anyone to legally make a cover version of a song, providing they pay the songwriter or publisher a ‘mechanical’ license fee for each sale or copy of the cover version. A mechanical license is also known as a ‘Compulsory Statutory Use’ license. To simplify the terminology, at Songbay, we use the word ‘Cover version license’ to mean ‘mechanical license’.
The Mechanical licensing rate is determined by the laws of the administering country. In the US,  the mechanical rate is set at 9.1 cents per CD or Download.
The buyer must pay a fee of  9.1 cents per planned CD or Download copy (sale) in advance.
To accommodate the above, we have added a new selling option known as a ‘Cover Version License’.
How it works-
If a buyer wants to make their own cover version of a song or lyric and sell 100 copies, they will need to pay 9.1 cents x 100  in advance. The total would be $9.10
If they want to sell 1000 copies, they will need to pay  9.1 cents x 1000  in advance. The total would be $91.10
The buyer is required to declare how many copies they are planning to sell, either in CD or download format and pay in advance of use.  Once paid, we transfer payment to the songwriter via PayPal (as always, Songbay takes no cuts from this payment.
Extra copies
If a user wishes to make and sell more copies, they would need to keep paying at the rate of 9.1 cents, in advance, each and every time.
A common question, is what if someone produces more copies than they pay for? And how is it monitored?
The answer is common to most aspects of the music industry (copyright infringement included), the process relies on the honesty of those involved. It is difficult to monitor. The odd undisclosed copy here and there may well slip through the net. But much more obvious, if you are a seller of a mechanical license and start noticing cover versions of your work appearing on well-known streaming sites, without the appropriate paid purchase license in advance, alarm bells would start ringing. In such cases, you would have the law on your side and the financial penalties for undisclosed use are extremely harsh. In our experience, users who pay for mechanical licenses, are not the most likely to want to steal work. Sadly, these types, tend to always remain anonymous.
The license only allows for the creation and selling of CD’s and downloads.  It does NOT allow for synchronization with audiovisual media. In other words, uploading the cover version to Youtube as a video is not permitted, neither is any TV, Radio, Film or other corporate use. A user would need to purchase an additional Songbay license for such purposes.
Other restrictions apply: “The licensee may rearrange each licensed song to conform to the style of the performance involved, but the licensee may not change lyrics, the basic melody or the fundamental character of the song.” In other words, total reworkings or abstract versions of the song are not permitted.

User Control 

For users who would rather not offer this selling option,  you can disable it during the upload process or afterward from the ‘Edit your Uploads’ section. Simply locate the upload and click on the ‘cover version allowed/disallowed’ box.