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Old June 3rd, 2010, 06:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
submersed
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Selling Cover Songs on iTunes?

I've been seeing more and more cover songs popping up on iTunes, and it got me wondering, people are actually buying these...so, what's the catch?

Are the bands paying royalties? How are they getting their covers on iTunes without copyright infringement? If they aren't, how are they getting the licenses to do so? Does anyone know the exact process to doing something like this, with links to resources included (specifically for getting a cover track on iTunes).

Edit: through the helpful links posted here and my own research, here's the answer I found for anyone else who is interested.

Sale of 500 cover songs distributed digitally via iTunes

Costs
Mechanical Rate For Song License (-) $0.091 x 500
Harry Fox Licensing Fee (-) $15.00
Tunecore (-) $9.99/year
Total Cost: $70.49

Sales
iTunes Sale (+) $0.99 x 500
iTunes Fixed Pay Rate (-) $0.30 x 500
Total Sales: $345.00

Last edited by submersed : June 7th, 2010 at 05:02 PM.
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 06:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
Jind
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Might find some info in this article: Recording, Releasing, and Performing Cover Songs

Also: http://www.harryfox.com/public/moreSongfile.jsp

Another info source I found: http://www.jarome.com/blog/2008/07/1...g-cover-songs/
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Last edited by Jind : June 3rd, 2010 at 07:05 PM.
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 07:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
submersed
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Edit: I posted too soon, your second link explains my question:
Quote:
Royalties for Songfile licenses are set at the current U.S. statutory mechanical rate. In addition to royalty fees, there is a modest per-song processing fee of $13 to $15 charged by HFA, depending upon how many songs are licensed.

I was on this page earlier, in it there's a link to that Limelight webpage, but there has to be some kind of trick to this? They have a flat royalty fee for every song...That doesn't seem legitimate?

Wouldn't they have to contact the record label / artist / producer of the original for what they want to charge as a royalty fee? How can this limelight page directly grant me permission to cover a song when they don't own the song to begin with?

If this is legitimate, once you get their 'permission' to use the song, or whatever it is you're buying, how do you go from there, to getting it onto iTunes?
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Old June 4th, 2010, 10:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
slashvanyoung
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Dig through this.

This is a key fact you should know:

Quote:
Once a song has been commercially released by an artist, that artist's song may be re-recorded and released by anyone who chooses to do so. This holds true, provided that the melody/lyric isn't substantially altered in the "cover" version, and that they pay proper fees/royalties directly to the song's copyright holder.
Services like HFA Songfile or Limelight ARE legit, not always the cheapest option, but definitely the most convenient.

There is a catch though, not EVERY artist/rights holder/administrator is represented by these licensing agencies. For those songs you'd have to get the license "directly" like it's described in the link above.
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Old June 4th, 2010, 04:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
submersed
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slashvanyoung View Post
Dig through this.

This is a key fact you should know:



Services like HFA Songfile or Limelight ARE legit, not always the cheapest option, but definitely the most convenient.

There is a catch though, not EVERY artist/rights holder/administrator is represented by these licensing agencies. For those songs you'd have to get the license "directly" like it's described in the link above.
Both that link, and your summary were very, very helpful. Thank you very much.

I guess my next concern is, I was adding up the costs of getting a song licenses, and distributing it on iTunes, and what shocked me was that I read online that profit on iTunes is extremely difficult to accomplish, and that artists only take away $0.09 on a $0.99 sale? I can't find the exact statistics on this, but that seems a bit ridiculous.

Source:
Quote:
"We make 9.1 cents off a song sale and that means a whole lot of pennies have to add up before it becomes a bunch of money," said Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters' Guild of America. "Yesterday, I received a check for 2 cents. I'm not kidding. People think we're making a fortune off the Web, but it's a tiny amount. We need multiple revenue streams or this isn't going to work."
Now, I don't know if it's the same for independent artists, as in owning the song, and producing it yourself? Do you know exactly what apple slices off of your $.99? (Considering the royalty fees are prepaid, well leave those out of the question).
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Old June 7th, 2010, 05:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Actually there are some sites like "Tunecore" that promise you 100% profit from your itunes sales, you will only need to pay some fees for other sites like amazon, etc...

But Ive heard of some copyright issues involving people that didnt receive their money because they didnt have the copyright/license/rights of the songs, so be aware!
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Old June 7th, 2010, 05:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THE PLAGUE View Post
Actually there are some sites like "Tunecore" that promise you 100% profit from your itunes sales, you will only need to pay some fees for other sites like amazon, etc...

But Ive heard of some copyright issues involving people that didnt receive their money because they didnt have the copyright/license/rights of the songs, so be aware!
I did a bit of further researching and found the while Tunecore promises 100% of profit, what I was worried about was how much is that 'profit', because iTunes has to take a chunk from it to make their money.

From what I was able to find, iTunes gives 70% of profits back to the artists, which Tunecore does not take a chunk from.

So, in terms of self-produced cover songs, it seems this is the answer I've found:

Sale of 500 cover songs distributed digitally via iTunes

Costs
Mechanical Rate For Song License (-) $0.091 x 500
Harry Fox Licensing Fee (-) $15.00
Tunecore (-) $9.99/year
Total Cost: $70.49

Sales
iTunes Sale (+) $0.99 x 500
iTunes Fixed Pay Rate (-) $0.30 x 500
Total Sales: $345.00
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Old June 21st, 2010, 04:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hey submersed, I actually work with the Limelight team and think I can help you with your problem. Limelight can acquire a DPD license (what you need for digital distribution) for any song you wish to cover. We work with all publishers, HFA and non-HFA affiliated. If you plan to release physical copies of the cover song (cd, vinyl, cassette) we can get you a license for that as well.

With Limelight, you pay the royalties upfront based on how many copies you intend on selling. So if you were to go through Limelight and then release your song on iTunes, the only money iTunes would take from you is their service charge per song sold. We charge a license fee of $15 (or less for multiple songs/configurations), and if you happen to sell more then you originally thought, you can revisit the site and re-new the license. We are based in New York and welcome any artists/labels to come by and meet the team. Hope this helps, any questions you have feel free to ask.
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Old December 8th, 2012, 08:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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HI Gavs242,

Does a DPD license from Limelight cover digital distribution only in the U.S? I'm struggling to find companies like Limelight that are U.K based.
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Old December 8th, 2012, 07:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Necrothread, though I'm happy you did dig it up since I was curious wether I could do a cover as well or not
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