Licenses vary, depending on whether it’s streaming only, or if it’s a physical and/or download release.
If your song is sold by a third party (e.g. another artist releases a cover of a song you’ve written) as a physical product or download, you are entitled to a mechanical royalty. This is paid by the third party releasing the record for sale — normally a label or artist.
Mechanical licenses are only needed for physical and download releases; digital streams do not need one because of the blanket licenses secured by Digital Service Providers (DSPs) from mechanical rights organizations around the world, like The MLC in the U.S. Because of these blanket licenses, no additional licensing is required for an artist to release a cover song or covers album if it is released for streaming only.
For more information on how blanket licenses are administered, check out our FAQs about The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC), a nonprofit organization that pays blanket mechanical royalties out to songwriters, composers, lyricists, and publishers.
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