When to get permission

If you distribute any physical, audio-only product such as compact discs; vinyl records; player piano rolls; music boxes; or even a microchip in a greeting card; make sure to get permission for any songs you did not write; recordings made by other people (such as samples, karaoke tracks, or backing tracks); and reprinted lyrics or music notes (if any). Licenses should be secured before you distribute your physical product. Reputable manufacturers will require proof of licensing before they will press your CDs. You do not need to license songs that you wrote yourself or songs that you know are in the public domain.

How to get permission

It is important to note that underlying what most people think of as a "song" is actually two components: the composition (music notes and lyrics that make up a song, created by the composers) and the original recorded audio (recording of musicians playing the song, created by the artists). Often the composers and artists are the same people, but not always. These song components can be owned separately by different entities. For this reason, there are two types of licenses to protect the two types of creations: 1) a mechanical license (audio-only) or synchronization license (video) for the composer to protect the composition, and 2) a master license for the recording artist to protect the original recording. It's important to understand both components, and both types of licenses when obtaining permission for a "song":

1) Composition (mechanical or synchronization rights)

The composition is the music notes and lyrics that define a song. The rights to the composition are usually owned by the composer or their publisher. Permission is obtained through a mechanical license (audio-only) or synchronization license (video).

2) Recording (master rights)

The recording is a recorded performance of the composition (song). The rights to the recording are usually owned by the artist or their record label. Permission is obtained through a master license.

If you own the rights to the recording, such as if you recorded a cover song, Easy Song Licensing can help you get 100% of the permission you need for the composition (mechanical rights) quickly and easily in 1-2 business days through our Cover Song Licensing service. Master licenses and print licenses are custom-negotiated upfront with the copyright holder, and are a bit more complex. For these types of licenses, check out our Custom Licensing services or contact us.

How the royalties are paid

For physical product, royalties are paid to the copyright holder upfront for every copy made. When you hire us, we collect the royalties from you, and then send 100% of them on to the copyright holder. If you need to reorder, you can get a new license for additional units. Our fees are half-price on reorders to make it easier to choose a lower initial quantity if you wish.

Relevant music licenses you might need

If your product has a song that someone else wrote, even if you are the one playing the music.
If your product has an existing recording that someone else made, even if it's just a small sample.
If you include song lyrics or music notes anywhere in your product, such as in the CD liner note insert.