Questions? We've got you Covered
Read through the information below for answers to our most frequently asked questions
How does the process work?
Want to learn more about how we keep you covered? Learn more about us and our three-step process here.
What's A Mechanical License?
A mechanical license gives you the right to reproduce and distribute a copyrighted song. More info can be found here.
What qualifies as a cover song?
Any performance or recording of a song that was written, recorded and previously released by another artist is classified as a cover song. No matter how unique and different your version is, someone else legally owns the song and is therefore entitled to royalties.
How Do I Know if I Need a Mechanical License?
If you are manufacturing and distributing copies of a song that you do not own or control, you need to obtain a mechanical license. This is required by the U.S. Copyright Act, regardless of whether or not you are selling the copies that you make. Under the U.S. Copyright Act, the right to use copyrighted, non-dramatic musical works in the making of sound recordings, including permanent digital downloads for distribution to the public for private use is the exclusive right of the copyright owner. However, the Act provides that once a copyright owner has recorded and distributed such a work to the U.S. public or permitted another to do so, a compulsory mechanical license is available to anyone else that wants to record and distribute the work upon obtaining a proper license and subsequently paying royalties at the statutory “compulsory” rate as set forth in Section 115 of the Act and the related regulations. In other words, if the song has already been recorded and commercially released, you can record and distribute it as long as you obtain a license and pay royalties. You don't need a mechanical license if you are recording and distributing a song you wrote yourself (and you haven't assigned the publishing to another party), or if the song is in the public domain. After you purchase your license, Royalty Solutions does the research to determine if the work is public domain or not. If so, your money will be refunded as no license is required.
Is There Ever a Case in Which I Wouldn't Need a Mechanical License?
There are very few cases in which you do not need a mechanical license. However, a mechanical license is not needed if:
- You are recording and/or distributing material that you have personally written*
- The song is in the public domain
* Please note: If you wrote the song, but publishing was assigned to a third party, distribution rights are in accordance with the agreement made between you and the third party.
Does my license cover streaming distribution?
NO. Licenses provided by TuneLicensing are for digital download and physical product configurations only.
- Digital Download – a purchasable, standalone audio file. Configurations include digital single, digital download (one audio file from an encompassing project or product), digital album (a project or product containing multiple digital downloads), and digital ringtone. An example is a single-song, $0.99 downloadable file from iTunes or Amazon. Go to this link for the U.S. Copyright Office’s definition of a Digital Phonorecord Delivery for a more technical definition.
- Physical Product – compact discs (CD), vinyl (LP) or cassette tapes
How do I get a license for streaming distribution? Do I need a license for streaming distribution?
NO. You do not need to obtain a license for streaming distribution. Spotify, Apple Music, and other major streaming platforms, through their own internal deals and negotiations, are responsible for paying out mechanical royalties directly to the copyright owners or administrators, or music publishers. NOTE: for non-commercial or non-major streaming service distribution, it is recommended you contact the service to see if they require you to obtain a license or if they handle coverage internally.
Does TuneLicensing provide YouTube licensing?
NO. TuneLicensing does not license for YouTube release. We recommend opting into the YouTube Partner Program (more info: Monetizing Eligible Cover Videos) or obtaining direct approval from the copyright owner/publisher of the song you want to use in your YouTube video. You can search ASCAP, BMI or SESAC works repertoires for publishing and contact information.
Does my license cover worldwide distribution?
NO. TuneLicensing licenses only grant U.S. distribution rights. The United States is one of only a few countries that requires you to obtain a mechanical license in order to cover/reproduce and distribute a song. You do not need a mechanical license in most countries because once your music is distributed, the digital music services collect and pay local rights societies, who then pay the copyright owners or publishers.
Are Any Songs Off Limits?
No song is off limits, so long as it has already been recorded and commercially released. As long as you obtain a mechanical license prior to the release date and pay royalties, you can cover any song you like.
Do I Need to Contact the Owner of the Song? Is There a Contract Involved?
There is no need to contact, contract or communicate with the owner of the song—Royalty Solutions will take care of that. Once you complete the proper registration and receive your active license confirmation you are covered and can begin distribution. You worry about the music, we'll worry about everything else.
Are There Any Limitations? If So, What are They?
Yes, there are some restrictions. In order to abide by US Copyright Law:
- You are allowed to make a new arrangement of the song, but cannot fundamentally change the lyrics or the melody.
- Licenses only cover songs that have already been released. The songwriter (copyright holder) has the right to be the first to release their song.
- The license does not cover public performances, background tracks or karaoke. It ONLY covers the sale of your recordings for private listening.
- Mechanical licenses are valid for the U.S. only
What if I Want to Use the Song in a Video?
A mechanical license doesn't include the use of a song in a video. That use requires a synchronization license, which can be obtained by contacting the publisher(s) directly.
What are your Rates?
TuneLicensing offers statutory rate licensing for permanent digital downloads.
The statutory mechanical royalty rate for permanent digital downloads is:
12¢ per copy for songs 5 minutes or less, or
2.31¢ per minute or fraction thereof, per copy for songs over 5 minutes.
For more detailed information on rates and pricing, visit our Pricing page.
What makes TuneLicensing different than other licensing services?
There are a number of benefits to choosing TuneLicensing as your “go-to” mechanical licensing service:
PRE-PAY ALL FEES UP FRONT: TuneLicensing's Limited License covers a predetermined amount of units and allows you to pay all royalty and licensing fees up front.
KEEP YOUR COVER SONG LICENSED… FOREVER: Did you sell out of your release and need to order more? You can relicense for a small fee and purchase another block of royalties without any gap in the terms of your license.
For qualifying clients*, there is a second option that is only offered by TuneLicensing. We offer the unique opportunity to purchase a Standard License*, which licenses a cover song in perpetuity. With this option, you never have to worry about re-licensing or pulling distribution after a preset amount has been sold. How do we do it? We're the only licensing service that performs sales tracking and quarterly accounting on your behalf. In other words, once your song is licensed, we track your sales and account to the publisher on a quarterly basis, charging your credit card accordingly. That's it. Your cover song is good to go. Forever. You just have to submit your request, pay the one-time license fee, and leave the rest to us.
*Standard License is exclusively available to TuneCore customers at this time.
EVEN FASTER LICENSING PROCESS: The TuneLicensing request screen now features a new type-ahead functionality that allows you to locate and identify the cover song you are requesting in real-time. This automatic identification process allows us to license some requests immediately, and eliminates the delay of research for many requests.
QUICK AND DEPENDABLE CUSTOMER SERVICE: The TuneLicensing team is standing by to answer any of your questions. We generally get back to you within 24 hours, and often even faster than that. Our support team has been working in the music industry for years, so rest assured that our answers and advice is dependable and accurate. We know the world of mechanical licensing can be tricky, but we are here to assist!
I'm distributing through TuneCore...
Is there More Than One Type of Mechanical License? How do I Know Which One Is Right for Me?
We offer two licensing options, Limited and Standard*. The majority of our artists opt for the Standard License*, because it is more comprehensive and lasts forever. To decide which option best suits your needs or to compare your options, visit our Pricing page.
Why am I only seeing the option for the Limited License?
When you register with TuneLicensing, there is an option to check a box marking you as a TuneCore user. If you missed ticking the box, the Standard License option won't be available to you. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Why am I getting an error when I enter the ISRC?
Our system taps into TuneCore's database to confirm that the metadata (ISRC & UPC) entered matches what is in their records. This is how we are able to track your sales and calculate royalties. If you are receiving an error, double check that your email and billing addresses are the same, and that you have the correct metadata.
If I Purchase a Limited License can I Change My Mind at a Later Time and Get a Standard License instead?
Yes, we offer the option to convert a license should you so choose. For detailed information please see our Pricing Page.
I'm releasing my digital album through TuneCore – can I still get a license for the physical product as well?
Yes! We license all physical product under the Limited License. This makes it easiest for customers to simply purchase enough royalties to match the amount of product manufactured. You’ll need to add it as a separate request from the digital release. Please note that the UPC must be different for each format.
What is a Proof of License?
Some distributors require evidence that you’ve properly licensed your cover before they distribute your recording. More info can be found here.
Please email us at: email@example.com
with your additional questions or comments.
(Please allow 1-3 business days for a response)