It’s one of the key exceptions to copyright law.
The Copyright Law of the United States grants the owner of a musical work complete control over who can record and release it, until they license the material for the first time. After this initial recording has been distributed to the public for consumption, the copyright owner is required by law to license their work to any other person or entity who wants to produce and distribute recordings of the copyrighted work in exchange for a fixed statutory rate (aka a compulsory mechanical license). In the U.S., this is currently 9.1 cents per song (or 1.75 cents per minute of play time, whichever is more) for physical and download releases.
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