Tag Archives: cover song

Under the Covers for Valentines Day? Protect Yourself

Under the Covers for Valentines Day? Protect Yourself

Everyone loves a cover song. And when you choose a romantic one, it’s a surefire way to win points with your significant other on Valentines Day. So, let’s say you do that and let’s say it comes out so good that you want to release this to your fans on your Nimbit storefronts…hold on Romeo… you need to protect yourself by either choosing a song in the public domain, or by licensing the song if it’s not.

Anyone can record a cover of any song, but if someone still holds the copyright, you  need to secure a license  to protect yourself from committing (and getting sued for) copyright infringement. Below is a post from Limelight, the fastest and easiest way to obtain a mechanical license for a cover song. As a Nimbit user, you can even get a discount on their service fee (see bottom). Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so be sure to clear those love songs!

Mechanical Licensing for Silly Love Songs: Public Domain vs. Copyrighted Works

Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs (especially for Valentine’s Day) and we at Limelight see nothing wrong with that!

Limelight mascot Olive loves silly love songs

When Limelight users start preparing their themed-album releases (love songs, standards, Broadway musicals, etc.), they often ask: “What constitutes a public domain composition?”

The U.S. Copyright Office defines public domain as:  “A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection.”  In the United States, music written before 1923 is generally considered to be public domain.

Many artists and labels who follow the Golden Rule of Licensing (“if you don’t own or control it, you need a license to use it”) know that public domain compositions are one of the few exceptions since tracks within the public domain don’t require a mechanical license or royalty payments made to music publishers.

One important point to consider — even though a song may be found in the public domain, a copyrighted arrangement of that song may exist (which would require a license) check first.  An excellent rule of thumb – if you used sheet music to learn it, you can often find the copyright information there.

The songs listed below are just a small sample of love songs that are in the public domain.

  • “I Love You Truly” (Carrie Jacobs Bond)
  • “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” (Leo Friedman, Beth Slater Whitson)
  • “I Can’t Tell Why I Love You, But I Do” (Will Cobb, Gus Edwards)
  • “For Me and My Gal” (George W. Meyer, Edgar Leslie, and E. Ray Goetz
  • “You Made Me Love You” (James Monaco, Joseph McCarthy)
  • “Sweet Adeline” (Harry Armstrong, Richard Gerard)
  • Also numerous classical works, including: “Gymnopedie” (Erik Satie) and “Clair de Lune” (Claude Debussy)

Many classic love songs that are presumed to be in the public domain are in fact copyrighted, so make sure to double-check your sources before deciding a track is public domain.  PD Info Online (www.pdinfo.com) is an excellent starting point if the liner notes and copyright information are unavailable.  In addition, a simple Google search with “written by” and “published” or “copyright date” alongside the song title often presents information related to the song’s initial copyright date.  This is by no means an exhaustive method for determining public domain, but can be helpful.

Here are just a few classic love songs that would require a mechanical license:

Love Songs that are not in the public domain and require a Mechanical License (Writer/Composer)

  • “At Last” (Mack Gordon, Harry Warren)
  • “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (George David Weiss, Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore)
  • “My Funny Valentine” (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)
  • “Embraceable You” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
  • “Night and Day” (Cole Porter)
  • “The Way You Make Me Feel” (Michael Jackson)
  • “You Are So Beautiful” (Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher)
  • “I Will Always Love You” (Dolly Parton)
  • “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (Cole Porter)
  • “True Love Ways” (Buddy Holly)

Securing a mechanical license can be a difficult task, but Limelight helps artists, school groups, choirs, record labels, and more in clearing the appropriate rights and paying songwriters and publishers.  If you have any questions about Limelight, don’t hesitate to reach out – our Support Staff is always willing to help!

Nimbit can help you save time and money on the mechanical licensing process through a brand new partnership with Limelight.  This easy online clearance form helps you secure the necessary mechanical license for your physical, digital or ringtone release for only a $15 administration fee plus publishing royalties.

Get started TODAY with discount code NIMBITROCKS for $5 OFF your first license admin fee.


Licensing Cover Songs: A Primer

This post was provided by Limelighta one-stop online tool that allows anyone to clear cover songs quickly and easily, for one low price.

Recording cover songs has always been a marketing-savvy way to reach new audiences, build a fan base, and provide an easy way to creatively branch out by taking a “hit” or obscure song and breathing new life into it.

However, just as driving a school bus, flying an airplane, or performing brain surgery (legally!) requires the appropriate credentials, specific licenses are required to legally distribute, adapt, and publicly perform music you do not own. Knowing which licenses exist and how to obtain them saves headaches, aggravation, and most importantly – exorbitant legal fees incurred from copyright law violations (money that we’d all rather spend on cool instruments and better recording gear!)

The Golden Rule of Licensing

Like all forms of intellectual property; including copyrights, trademarks or patents—if you don’t own or control it—you need a license to use it.  There are some exceptions to the rule (i.e. public domain works), the golden rule is a common guideline that can be helpful in determining what rights need to be licensed and how to obtain them.

Are you using a composition, a sound recording, or both?

In order to determine the appropriate license, you’ll first need to ask some basic questions – what are you looking to use?  Are you creating a cover song?  Are you sampling an existing recording?  Knowing the difference between compositions and sound recordings is crucial to determining the necessary license required.

Compositions (the underlying structure of the song, including melodies, lyrics, chords, etc.) and Sound Recordings (the fixed master recording and/or audio file) fall under two distinct copyright categories.  Compositions are often called “publishing rights”, while recordings are “master rights”.  Music publishers and songwriters control the publishing rights, and record labels and recording artists (if they own the label) own and control the master rights.

Still confused?  No problem! Publishing can be a difficult concept that can be easily understood via a simple analogy.  Imagine that the sound recording is the brick-and-mortar building, while the compositions are the blueprint.  Without the blueprint, there’s no way to exactly replicate the building (without some architectural know-how, or at least having some dexterity in building smaller-scaled Lego models).  The blueprint provides the necessary information to create the building much like the musical composition outlines the chord progression, melody, and lyrics needed to create the sound recording.

What do you want to do with the music?

Now that you understand the difference between compositions and sound recordings, it’s easier to determine what license is required.

Make a Cover Song: Cover songs have always been popular, and are now witnessing an unprecedented uptick by way of tribute albums and song sessions (The Flaming Lips doing Pink Floyd, Beck’s Record Club), the TV popularity of American Idol and Glee, branded entertainment like Levi’s Pioneer Sessions or The AV Club’s Undercover series, and as bonus cuts to digital-only releases.  If you’re looking to record your own version of a song, you’ll need to secure a mechanical license from the appropriate music publisher.  Under U.S. Copyright Law, mechanical licenses are required if you want to record or distribute a song that you do not own or control.  Limelight is an online site that can help you secure the mechanical license needed to release a cover song.

Use a Sample: If you’re using a pre-recorded track (i.e. the recording of Van Halen’s “Jump” in a new recording), you’ll need to clear BOTH the sound recording copyright with Van Halen’s record label as well as the mechanical license from the music publisher to use the underlying composition.  Since this is considered a derivative work, which is defined as an artistic work derived from one or more existing works, it will require direct approval from all parties involved.  This is an area that requires some negotiating as there is no standard rate involved and can range from cheap(gratis) to costly depending on the sample(s) being used.

Cover Song: Getting a Mechanical License

In the United States, artists and record labels are typically responsible for clearing the right to use cover songs (i.e. third-party compositions) via a mechanical license.

A mechanical license is a broad term that refers to the reproduction, for distribution or sale, of musical compositions in the form of sound recordings. Any time you produce a recording of a composition you do not control, you must obtain a mechanical license. The mechanical license is often limited to one configuration (such as a physical CD/album vs. a digital download vs. a ringtone vs. an interactive stream).  Nearly all publishers require a separate license for each use.

So, if you have a recording of a previously recorded song by a hit artist—and have a mechanical license for permission to use that song—you can use that song to help you target a pre-existing marketing base, and introduce them to your version, while promoting your own original works.

There are many entities that can assist in clearing the mechanical licenses you require, but look no further than Limelight. It’s a one-stop, simple online tool for artists, bands and labels to clear cover songs and third-party compositions for digital downloads, physical albums, interactive streaming, and ringtones quickly and without hassle.  Customers create an account and finalize their mechanical licensing within minutes via a simple three-step process for $15 (or less).