A few weeks ago I posted an update on Google+ that the cover song licensing service Limelight is shutting down. A bunch of people started asking me what some alternatives were. So, I went looking around, found a few and listed them below.
But before I get to the list I figured I'd brain dump a few thoughts on why you might want to license cover songs and why you need a service to use them (if you were wondering. If not just skip the next few headings).
Why Cover Songs?
Regardless of whether or not your main goal is original music, you should have a few cover songs in your arsenal. They act as sort of a familiarity buffer between you and the listener. The listener knows the tune but they don't know you.
A cover song opens the door to your original stuff. For instance, lets say you do a cover of something and post it on YouTube. You have a better chance of getting discovered via people searching for that song and when they do find you – and like you – they'll think “Wow, I love the way he/she does “Cool Cover Song” I wonder what his originals sound like?” (then they click on the link to your site in your description).
I know its worked on me as a fan many times. One instance, about 8-9 years ago, I found this band called Robot Lords of Tokyo. I heard their cover of Motley Crue's “Knock ‘Em Dead Kid” and was blown away. I HAD TO check out their originals. When I did, I loved it. I still have many of their tunes in regular rotation to this day and I've turned them on to plenty of my metal buddies over the years.
I would also throw in that cover songs show the listener that you both have the same taste in music. That can lead to good conversation and maybe even friendship. Think about it, when you meet someone who digs the same stuff, you can talk for hours. Why not start off like that with potential fan? Powerful stuff if you are building a fan base.
Why You Need A Cover Song Licensing Service?
If you want to sell those cover songs, you need to make sure that you are giving the original artists/songwriters their piece of the action. Not only is it the law (in most countries anyway) it is the right thing to do. Hell, you want to get credit and payment for your work right? Why screw someone else out of credit for theirs. Don't be a dick.
These services make it really easy. Not too long ago it was a pain in the ass jumping through hoops to get clearance for cover songs but, these days, not so much. The services I will mention soon, take the hassle out of it for less than $20 (way worth it).
And besides the hassle, you get peace of mind. They make sure that every “i” gets dotted and every “t” gets crossed. You do not want to miss something and get into trouble, do you? I didn't think so.
List of Cover Song Licensing Services
Anyway, here are the two services I found.
HFA (aka Harry Fox Agency)
They've been around for awhile and where the first place I was referred to when I start asking around a few years back. You can visit their main website or check them out through their webite or head right over to Songfile, which they run and is a more direct path to getting your cover song licensed.
Their biggest claims are that they are the most inexpensive, they are fast and you get to talk to a real person. The real person thing is huge IMHO, in fact I tested it out and called. And what do you know, I got a real person on the other end. I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with Aaron.
He said anyone can call anytime and you will get a real person to bounce questions off of and/or help get you started. Even if it is after hours or are busy leave a message. They make a priority to call everyone back and talk to them personally.
They also have a referral program where you can earn money by referring your friends. That is always a nice feature. Which is why, after a great conversation, I became a partner. When they ask you, tell em Corey at Musicgoat sent you (thank you). Click here to learn more.
If you use DistroKid, you can basically just tick a box to get songs licensed as you prepare your song for distribution. I imagine other digital music distributors are adding this feature but this is the one I noticed it on. Check out DistroKid.
There ya go, now you have a few options to help you get those cover songs licensed.
Hey Thanks for the great info!
1 quick question –
what if EasyLicensing shuts down like Limelight did?
what happens to the licensing agreement?
HFA has been around forever – but I havent got around to that bit – holding bk my covers – because I knew it wouldn’t be a simple task.
Looking fwd to hearing bk from you & Thanks again!
(im usually good for an RT here n there- put me on your “co-conspirators” list)
I have reached out to Aaron at EasySongLicensing. He will probably be stopping by to answer this.
Hi Corey, thanks for the vote of confidence! We love what we do and that translates into putting our licensing clients needs first, even if it doesn’t end up with a sale. We believe that a lot of musicians need help with their legal questions and shouldn’t have to pay an entertainment lawyer hundreds of dollars per hour, so we’re here to educate and guide to make sure any musician can be protected. Let us know if we can lend a hand if you plan to record and distribute any cover music you didn’t write. Thanks again Corey!
To answer your question. First off, we are not going anywhere and we are not only growing our business, but we are looking to be the industry leader. Our clients get fast results with iron-clad proof of mechanical song licenses, so everyone is well-taken care of once they are in our system. Feel free to call us at 800-360-5192 and we would be happy to give you absolute peace of mind for all your future projects.