How is it possible to license any song?
Meant to foster creativity, the Compulsory Mechanical Licensing Law makes it possible for you to legally record your new version of any existing song, even without the copyright holder's express permission. If you ask a publisher directly, they can demand any fee or reject your request outright. But under Compulsory Law, they cannot reject the license. Even in cases where the copyright holder is highly protective of their work, this law allows for any musician to cover some very popular songs. However, under Compulsory Law, you are not allowed to change the lyrics, add original composition, nor change the basic melody of the original copyrighted work. The end product is meant for private listening to the end user and does not parlay into public performance licensing. Any variable outside of these rules requires special approval from the copyright holder(s).
More details about Compulsory and U.S. Copyright Law.
Licenses need to be secured before you create the product or distribute. Reputable manufacturers require Proof of Licensing before they press your CDs or vinyl. You do not need to license songs that you wrote yourself or songs that you know are in the public domain. Whatever quantity you decide to manufacture in the first place needs to match the number of units you license.
How do I license for digital downloads?
Similar to physical product, you must pre-pay royalties upfront for the number of downloads you anticipate to distribute. We suggest licensing what you think you will distribute in one year. Most licensing customers have no idea what to anticipate, so we usually suggest starting with a more conservative quantity such as 25 or 100 downloads to begin with. It's up to you to monitor your distribution and to make sure you do not exceed what you have licensed. If necessary, you can get a new license for additional units, which is very easy to accomplish.
How do I license for audio streaming?
Just like digital downloads, interactive audio streaming royalties need to be paid up front before you can distribute. Interactive audio streaming is defined as any website offering the user the ability to listen to a song, but not allowed to download or keep it inside their own personal music library or device. Since the royalty rate is much cheaper vs. CDs/vinyl/downloads, most artists start with higher quantities such as 100, 500 or 1000 streams, while applying the same monitoring and reorder principals as the other formats.
Still have questions about mechanical rights? Contact Easy Song Licensing.