LANDR BLOG

Music DistributionMusic GearMusic PromotionVideo

How to Release a Cover Song: The 5 Step Cover Song Licensing Checklist

Wondering how to release a cover song? It’s not as complicated as you might think.

Get fast, insightful support and promotional tips, tools and tricks and distribution to 100+ music streaming platforms when you release your tracks with LANDR. Release a track.

Recording is the fun and easy part. But to get it out into the world, you’ll need a distribution strategy that works for your cover song and a mechanical license to go with it.

The truth is, commercially releasing a cover song can be complicated for independent artists. But don’t fret.

In this article you’ll learn everything you need to know to get your cover songs released legally in 5 quick steps.

1. Pick the perfect song

How do you choose the right song to cover? There’s no exact science.

But there are some useful approaches to consider when choosing your cover material.

Here’s some ideas for how to choose a song to cover:

  • Share an influence your fans may not know you have
  • Make a statement by re-working a classic
  • Reveal the core of a song by changing its genre
  • Pick a song you find challenging and use it to sharpen your own skills
  • Cover a song that’s always stuck in your head and figure out why it’s so catchy

If you start changing your cover too much, it might not be a cover anymore…

Whatever you pick, choose wisely. Don’t select a song just because you think it will get a lot of streams.

Pick a song that will teach you something just by learning and recording it.

2. Make sure it’s still a cover

A cover song is a recording of a previously released song that has kept the same composition (lyrics, melody and song structure) as the original version.

If you start changing your cover too much, it might not be a cover anymore…

Cover song licensing does not extend to:

  • Remixes
  • Samples
  • Mashups

Stay true to the original composition and keep it a cover. This will help you avoid headaches when you’re releasing.

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/SheetMusic_1200x627.gif

3. Find the right mechanical license

You need a mechanical license to distribute your covers.

Mechanical licenses ensure that your covers are legal to distribute and that everyone who should be getting paid, is getting paid.

But without help, licensing cover songs can be a huge hassle—the terms are often confusing and time-consuming.

Luckily, digital distribution has made cover song licenses for all major streaming platforms simple and quick.

There’s a lot of ways to get a mechanical license. So your best bet is to keep it as simple and affordable as possible.

For example, LANDR now offers cover song licensing for only $15.

Get a Cover Song License

Just click the cover song box when you release with LANDR, enter a bit of info and we’ll take care of the rest. Which brings me to my next point…

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CheckBox_1200x627-1-1.gif

4. Lock down the details

To release a cover song, you need to enter a bit of info.

If you’re unsure where to find the right info for your covers, Songfile provides a great resource to figure it out.

Just search your cover song and grab the following details:

The original song title

Enter the original song title of your cover. Avoid the temptation to edit the title for flavor. Stick to the facts.

Hot tip: Don’t put “(cover)” or “cover version” in the title. The original title is all you need.

At least one original songwriter

You covered a song by your favorite band, but have you ever actually looked at the songwriting credit?

You covered a song by your favourite band, but have you ever actually looked at the songwriting credit?

It’s possible that the credited songwriter isn’t who you expect. No problem, just search for your song on the Songfile database to get the info you need.

Make sure you get it right. This is the info that determines who gets paid. If the track isn’t attributed properly, it’s gonna be a problem!

The original performing artist

Make sure you include the original performing artist when you’re releasing your cover.

Get fast, insightful support and promotional tips, tools and tricks and distribution to 100+ music streaming platforms when you release your tracks with LANDR. Release a track.

This one is easy. Just enter the name of the artist you’re covering and you’re done!

LANDR will take care of everything else to make sure your cover is legal and ready for every major streaming platform.

5. Think about where it’s gonna live

Once you’ve distributed your cover song it’s time to promote it.

Is it a single? A deep cut on your album? Or maybe it’s for a compilation or playlist? Maybe it’s a Christmas song cover?

Think about where your cover song will live once it’s distributed. This will help you to determine a release date and prepare for sharing your song.

Is it a single? A deep cut on your album? Or maybe it’s for a compilation or playlist?

If it’s on an album, then your strategy will be the same as your album release rollout plan. Not sure where it fits on your album? Read our album sequencing guide for some tips.

If your cover is a single, consider building a playlist or story around it for your social media channels. Don’t keep it undercover. If you cover something, tell your fans!

No matter how you release it, think about the best home for your cover songs before you license it and always share with care.

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Cover-spotify_1200x627-1.gif

Crimson and Cover

Cover songs are an amazing way to bring creativity and intrigue into your catalogue.

Plus, simple cover song licensing means you get to focus on the fun part: recording and releasing.

So think about doing a cover of your own with these 5 simple steps, and make covers part of your process.

Ready to release a cover? Learn more about LANDR cover song licensing today.

LANDR

Various contributors from the LANDR team of music mentors.

@LANDR

Gear guides, tips, tutorials, inspiration and more—delivered weekly.

Keep up with the LANDR Blog.

Latest posts