Mechanical Licenses

A mechanical license gives a band or musician permission to create copies and reproduce music in which they do not own the copyright. Van Halen paid the Beach Boys for a mechanical license before they recorded "California Girls". So, if your band is planning on covering "The Cure" for the debut demo or CD, be sure to take the necessary legal steps to avoid a lawsuit.

Most mechanical licenses in music can be obtained through the Harry Fox Agency for a nominal fee. Rest assured that you do not need to call Robert Smith or his record label before you record your "Cure" cover. Furthermore, US copyright law calls for compulsory mechanical licenses. This means, that you do not need the permission of the copyright holder to obtain and exercise your mechanical license.

The current statutory rates are approximate .09 to .14 cents per song per CD or digital download. The rate varies depending on the length of the song covered. Therefore, for each CD that is pressed containing the cover song, or for each digital download of the cover song, the band or musician will owe .09 to .14 cents to the copyright holder.

Obtaining a mechanical license to cover another's song is necessary:

  • To protect the musician from a lawsuit
  • To ensure the professionalism and reputation of the musician
  • Because many retailers, whether in store or on-line, will refuse to carry music they believe is illegal and lacking proper licenses

My office can help you obtain the necessary licenses so that you can sell your music with confidence and get your independent CD into the stores. Call for a free consultation today.