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putting a cover song on our new CD release?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by nodell, Mar 5, 2002.

  1. nodell

    nodell Guest

    Hi all,

    I'm looking for a 2nd opion here. The band that I play in performs a cover song by Garrison Starr called Superhero occasionally at live shows. We decided to record it the other night just for our own amusement - not intending that we would ever try to place it on a cd or make it available.

    Our lead singer works at Discmakers and decided to ask their person in charge of clearing CD's for unauthorized samples just what it would take if we wanted to include this song on our upcoming CD release. As it turns out (I guess it's a small world) - the person she spoke with knows Garrison Starr and said that they would try and contact her to see if it was OK if we placed the song on our new CD. Although they have yet to speak directly with Garrison, the following was the email that we received back. I'm a little skeptical about this, so I was looking for other opions or responses from folks that are more knowledgeable about this than I am. Here's the reply:

    I agree with my buddy, pay retroactively if you have a hit album on you hands. I'll let you know when he gets something more formal, but I'd say your ok to record it. Darius is Garrison's roommate.

    I talked to my friend Darius who's tight with Garrison. He's the one who works on licensing for
    movie soundtracks. He said she owns part of the publishing rights to her songs. I'm assuming Geffen, or more importantly, whoever bought out Geffen, probably owns the part of them, too. He also said anyone can cover anyone elses music on their album because it's in the public domain. You're friend would only have to pay if her album makes any money. And to do that she'd have to contact the publishing company and let them know the song's on her album. Since she's probably not going to make any money on the album, I wouldn't even worry about it. But if she really wants to be on the up and up, she'd have to contact the
    publishing co. Don't ask me who that is, though. I just don't know. I'll see what Garrison says if I get a chance to talk to her. She's going out on tour soon. Her new album comes out in March.


    Any input would be appreciated.

    - neil
  2. McAllister

    McAllister Guest

    As i understand it (and speaking with an attorney is that smartest thing you could do at this point):

    If the song has been released by anyone previously you do NOT need permission to cover it and release it yourself.

    You DO need to pay the songwriter/publisher mechanicals for every copy of the CD that is sold, not just if the CD project as a whole makes money. I am not sure the exact price of mechanicals (a publisher could tell you - it's partly based on how many songs are on the CD) but last I knew it was $.08 per sale (that's eight cents per CD sold).

    Good luck. Find an attorney.
  3. dwcook

    dwcook Guest

    Yup, that's it. You contact the Harry Fox agency, and get a mechanical license for the song you cover. You will have to pay a set royalty rate for each copy you manufacture. If the rate is 8 cents per copy, and you print 1000 CDs, then 8x1000=$80. You pay your $80. to Harry Fox and you can legally sell your 1000 copies.

    Harry Fox agency:

    If you'd like to read more about this, try:

    "This Business of Music", which has been the standard music industry bible for a bunch of years...


    "All you need to know about the Music Business"--By Donald Passman, which is shorter, more fun, and a must have book for these kinds of questions.

    Both of these books are in most bookstores.
  4. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    Feb 13, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Home Page:
    You can often get a better deal directly from the publisher than the statutory compulsory license from the Harry Fox office. Since you have contacts with some of the people involved, I would pursue it. Just get your agreement in writing so nobody can come after you in the event that the publishing changes hands.
  5. Wes Hatchett

    Wes Hatchett Guest

    if that's all there is to it then why do you need to get so much permission to sample a song in another song?

    People say "oh...you'd never be allowed to sample Billy Jean" - just becuase it is the actual sound recording?

    If I was an artist...I'd probably want to be more protective of who covered my stuff and released it, regardless of if I was getting paid for it.

    Seems like there is something missing here about publishers rights...or something...<shrug>

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