Cover song videos are hugely popular on YouTube , and making a cover song video is one of the most proven ways to get new listeners and viewers to check out your other songs, including your original material. What do you need to do in order to NOT get your pants sued off? First, an important disclaimer: That being said, CD Baby and our YouTube network Illustrated Sound manage a vast catalog of songs and videos on behalf of artists on YouTube, and we have lots of experience from which we draw upon to offer the general advice that follows.
The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication. In order to distribute and sell your own version of that cover song, you have to secure what is know as a mechanical license from the publisher of the song, and pay them the appropriate mechanical royalties.
So while you absolutely MUST acquire the necessary mechanical license for a cover song before you press CDs or sell downloads, that license is meaningless when it comes to the video you want to post on YouTube.
As entertainment attorney Christiane Cargill Kinney says:. Assuming that a single license is going to cover you for every usage of the song is kind of like assuming that your doctor will accept pet insurance to treat your laryngitis. Almost NO ONE that creates cover song videos is jumping through the hoops to secure the appropriate license before they post those videos to YouTube.
Are they getting sued? Are they having their videos smacked with a copyright violation notice or take-down request? But by and large, no. Well, YouTube has developed a monetization system to allows rights holders and content creators to bypass the usual licensing process for cover song videos. Getting a sync license or synch license from the publisher of the song allows you to pair their composition with moving images in your cover song video.
You just need to negotiate with the publisher. Since the publisher holds all the cards in this circumstance, they can ignore your sync license request. They can tell you to take a hike. They can say, sure you can post a cover video of our song, as long as you pay us a bazillion dollars.
Or they can be quite reasonable and grant you permission as long as you meet some set of realistic criteria and pay them the agreed upon upfront fee or ongoing royalty split or both. Sound like a lot of work? It does to most artists, especially YouTubers who are often creating a new cover song video every week.
In other words, if you upload a cover song video, YouTube should be able to tell that you do NOT own the rights to the song; you will see a claim placed on the video by the publisher, and any ad revenue generated by your video will be paid to that rights holder.
This is the same technology that allows CD Baby to monetize the usage of sound recordings across all of YouTube on behalf of our artists.
In many cases, copyright owners allow the use of their content in YouTube videos in exchange for putting ads on those videos. These ads may play before or — if the video is longer than 10 minutes — during the video.
But that is very rare these days. Most publishers understand that monetizing cover song videos through YouTube ads can add up to real revenue. Hopefully this article helps you choose the right path for you when it comes to posting cover song videos on YouTube. We can help you take your YouTube channel to the next level! I found this helpful.
I did not find this helpful. I live in Maine and like peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, a little too much. So, in essence, If ANYONE record a cover song and puts it up on Youtube with a licence then they are doing so illegally and can expect Youtube to demand that they take it down….
Some original artists might see a cover song and dig what you did with it. Thanks for reading, and for your comment. Hi Christinane i need a synch license but cant find the publisher of Flaco Jimenez a texas singer. I have looked into different websites but no luck. Any advise would be appreciated. Well, I'll leave it to the legal expert to answer this one proper, but… it's not a certainty that YouTube will demand you take it down.
All said and done, if an artist becomes unable to sell his creative wares, he or she can simply give away for free and get blessed by God otherwise. Uni Stars Of Colin: If my understanding is not wrong. Yes, Christopher is right. That kind of arrangement is typically called a "Co-Publisher" agreement.
I'm sure Christiane could fill you in legally, but the bottom line is that such an agreement usually allows a music supervision house the people who were interested in buying and marketing your song to sell to a movie, TV show, game, etc to enter into a direct contract with you to secure the "synch" rights to be paired with new media elsewhere. A practical and real example from us: Tim Ballard recorded Irving Berlin's "Change Partners" album "Easy Does It" many years ago, and therefore secured the mechanical rights to cover the song so that the songwriter or the songwriters' estate — note that copyrights can last for up to 75 years AFTER the death of the LAST surviving songwriter and can be renewed by an estate in perpetuity — Christiane, correct me if wrong!
However, last month, a music supervision house selected the song for placement into its general catalogue for marketing to its potential entertainment industry clients. In the deal, TIMKAT and the music supervision house are both considered "publishers" hence the name "co-pub" , and the movie studio would then buy the rights to the song from the music supervision house directly in a separate agreement.
You should also ensure that the agreement is "non-exclusive" and that you can terminate the agreement in writing, should you be dissatisfied with the partnership. This to ensure that when the new name of the song ends up on a PRO report, everyone is paid according to contract for the version being used throughout the industry. As a further example, in our case, "Change Partners", which will forever be an Irving Berlin-written and copyrighted tune, will now be called "Switch Partners" within the music supervision house's catalogue.
I think a good follow up would be to delve further into the monetization of youtube and how that affects this issue. What if you record a cover and just place the audio file on your website — no video, no YouTube? Do you need just the mechanical license in this case? At least in Australia, you need to get a separate license to use a clip of no more than 30s with a couple of secs.
You need to pay the songwriter for each time the song is listened to, or downloaded. Youtube sent me a: The main issue though is that it counted as a strike against my account, very uncool. What about the situation where you've filmed your child at a school or music school gig or even at a public venue licensed for live music, performing a cover, and you want to post that on You Tube and link to it from a website or Facebook for promotional purposes?
Some videos stay monetized, and some I get the email on that say that they have been disabled, but no rational explanation is given. I actually only made a challenge on one for the first time the other day am less than a month old at this. How long does it take for a review of a challenge? It's also worth noting that a number of artists have had their channels taken down for having their own content put up because of how YouTube finds copyright infringement.
I just got a warning last week about putting up copyright violating material for a video for my own song. This is a huge problem with the system mostly from bad code and somewhat from bad people trying to scam the holes in the system. Keep bringing up the issue! I'm a remixer and I've heard conflicting definitions and consequently conflicting advice on licensing requirements…. Not exactly cover songs, but I ran into problems on YouTube when I posted recordings with still image video of my own arrangements of the public domain tunes What Wondrous Love and The Entertainer and monetized them.
I've also had YouTube question and refuse to monetize my own compositions and my own visuals because they weren't satisfied when I checked all the right boxes and told them they were my own material. YouTube never did allow me to monetize my own material. YouTube is very inconsistent in its own policies. In a very similar boat. Please keep us informed as to what you learn. One question already asked deserves an answer. What if I just upload audio to a cover song on my website, or just show a blank screen on YouTube.
Does the mechanical license cover that or do we still need a synch license? Yes, a great questions— I'm waiting for our guest legal expert to weigh in on that, though.
But then later you said that it does, If I have no intention of recording the song on my own project or making it available for downloads or any distribution but just want to use it to promote me then do I need to do anything at all? All I am basically doing is promoting their song for free. It only helps them by giving their song more exposure.
Whether it can be streamed only or downloaded, you still need the licenses. Regardless of the use, any performance or recording, legally speaking, requires the copyright holders permission. Many copyright holders would probably agree with you, and in fact I think the vast majority of cover videos on YouTube, etc, are left alone for this reason. What is the normal sync fee? I have paid copyright on that song can I put it on itunes or not.
We wrote an email to the publisher asking to use a particular song and they replied that it was OK without payment I think they have got that now. However, some artists are fussy. Pity, because it was the only cover on our CD. Just because you have published a song does not mean you cannot control how or where it is used, like that it is not allowed to be used derogatorily. You can still place those restrictions, but run the risk of your songs not being covered.
I guess Van has an old-school mind, which makes sense. YouTube is the new audio place. I really appreciate your information. This topic is definitely something that I was not sure about it, but now you have clarified everything with this great and helpful article.
I have made an adaptation of a song from English to Spanish, do I need to register this new version as mine on the library of congress? I also have contacted the publisher of the original writers and they are waiting from my new version, they can help me to get the synch license as well?More...