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Licensing questions

Discussion in 'Recording' started by dschmalz, Nov 17, 2011.

  1. dschmalz

    dschmalz Active Member

    I'm considering releasing a cover song. I'm not sampling any previously recorded audio; I'm performing my own version of the song. However, I'm only covering the chorus, and adding my own verses. Is this still technically considered a cover? I know about licensing covers through Harry Fox, etc. but I'm not sure if this works the same way. Also, am I allowed to change the title from the original title of the song, or does it need to be the same? I'm hoping to release the song on iTunes, and I'm only expecting about 400-500 downloads... so my final question is, how much do these details matter? ;)
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I certainly like dschmalz In my chopped chicken livers. I also like it when my recording sound like dschmalz. However, covering any piece of music already published legally requires a clearance from the publishing house. I don't care if it's just the chorus. So invert the thematic of the chorus and you are good to go without any authorization. I could actually play you a sample of famous rock 'n rol tunes that aren't the famous rock 'n roll tunes they sound like. It's Commercial production music. It rips off the flavor without actually stealing the notes that made the real once famous. We actually cut a commercial in 1978 for our recording studio to play upon the number one rock 'n roll station in Baltimore. At that time, Randy Newman's song about short people was popular. So our commercial sounds just like Short People but it's not. That's called arranging my friend. And even the dumbest musicians should be able to do that. I'm not saying you're dumb. But if in fact you are actually covering a song and you want to release that, which is not yours and expect people to purchase it, you best get clearance. Of course there is that other popular standpoint of pay your money, take your chances. You said " I'm only expecting 400-500 download..." And what are you going to say to the nice lawyers when they come calling? What happens if you go viral? 400-500 could turn into 4,000,000-5,000,000. What kind of lawsuit would that be? It really doesn't matter if you haven't " sampled" a song. Somebody has publishing rights to that song and it may not even be the artist you've heard perform it. I mean how much money did Michael Jackson pay to Rod Temperton? In the end, Michael almost looked like Rod.

    I worked with Quincy Jones on the Jesse Jackson show. But I don't know why Quincy would want to produce Jesse Jackson since he didn't grab his crotch as much?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. dschmalz

    dschmalz Active Member

    Remy, thanks for replying, but your post was confusing and ultimately did not answer my questions. There is a different procedure for clearing an actual sampled audio recording, and a cover song. I don't know exactly what they involve, but I know there is a difference. I also know that there is yet another different procedure for licensing something like a parody (i.e. Weird Al) where you are pretty much covering the song but changing some words. I'm trying to figure out which of those procedures I need to use for this particular recording. Also, I have searched and searched the internet and can't seem to find any sort of answer to the question of whether one can change the title of a cover song to be something other than the original song title.
    What I'd like to do with this song is go to Harry Fox's website, pay licensing fees for 400 downloads, change the title of the song and put it on iTunes. Just trying to figure out if that's going to be possible, or if there is something else that needs to be done.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You essentially are not getting any answers from anyone here. The answer is simple. A copyright attorney. Your question is basically like asking if you can take a Beatles song like Yesterday, rename it to Today & Tomorrow, change the lyrics and it's yours. Ain't going to happen. It will happen, if you simply invert the melodic line and then it is yours. Parodies come under different licensing since a parody is considered comedy and with that, you can get away with murder. So stop worrying whose material you can steal as you can steal anyone's if you are a accomplished arranger. You can sample most anything these days if it's less than 7 consecutive notes without clearance. But why steal when you can create? You are sort of asking something equivalent to, can I use some other guy's sperm, without asking, to inseminate my wife. You can, if they have cleared it for that purpose such as an anonymous donor. You certainly wouldn't want to try and steal any of that guy's sperm without asking, would you? I hope not. So this is another reason why people are not responding to your question. Go ahead and do it. You have nothing to fear but fear itself. Otherwise, observe who the publishing company is and drop them a letter. If it's a sample you want to utilize, contact the record label and/or artist and simply ask first. Otherwise, instead of asking people here who are not copyright lawyers, spend 75 bucks on the Internet and ask one directly. You need to protect yourself when stealing from others.

    I don't steal nothin'. Otherwise, I'm happy to give you a sample... as my probation officer has occasionally asked for one...
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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