Music Gateway
Login or Join for Free
or sign up with
Spotify icon
Burger menu
Large chevron
close icon

Cover Song Licensing & Distribution

Wondering how to distribute your cover song? We can help with cover song licensing through Distribution

Get started Looking to distribute large quantities?

Pricing & Rights

Get your music on Spotify, TikTok, Instagram, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Deezer, Pandora, and more and that includes cover songs

Get Started
Radio promo images
Man performing on street, Woman recording song with guitar and man singing at live event.

Licensing cover songs

To release and distribute a cover song, you’ll need a mechanical license. No matter how unique your version is, if you don’t obtain a license you’ll be breaching copyright law. We know these things can feel confusing - so we sort the license for you so you can sit back, relax and feel confident that your music is being distributed legally

Get Started

Have you thought about Sync Licensing?

Obtaining a mechanical license is only relevant if your music is audio only. If you’ve created a video you’ll need to get a Sync License. Don’t worry, we can help with that too!

Learn More
Radio promo images

Free distribution

Release to over 300 DSPs including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and many more.


Keep 100% of your sales

Unlike other distributors, we won’t take a percentage from your sales - you keep 100% of your royalties.

Free mastering

You need to make sure your song sounds great before its release. We can master your song in seconds.

Instant set-up

Upload your song, provide a few details and release. We can even provide a UPC code if you don't have one.

Transfer your music

Transfer music already released through other distributors to save big and earn more from every listen.

Free IMB Anti-Piracy

Protect your music and your earnings on every stream/download with automatic takedowns of illegal copies.

You will also get free access to Music Gateway which includes...

Image of Wendy wei

Exclusive opportunities and promotions from our network

We find the best opportunities out there for your music. Promotion is our thing and we're one of the best at it!


Exclusive independent Spotify curators and playlists

Once you've got your song out there, you need plays. We provide free submission tools to really start getting things rolling.

Smart TV

Exclusive sync licencing opportunities and representation

We can represent you and get your music featured on movies, TV shows, adverts and games.

Woman singing in microphone

Free artist page to help promote you to A&R reps and new fans.

Become part of Music Gateway and create your instant artist page. Add songs, gigs, merch and so much more.

Compare Music Gateway with other services


Costs and fees

Free. Forever.

Sales royalties you retain


Free mastering

Exclusive independent Spotify curators and playlists

Exclusive sync licensing opportunities and free sync representation

Free press, blog and promotional services

CD Baby

£7.99 p/yr a song

$9.95 p/yr a song

£19 p/yr

$19.99 p/yr

£7.99 p/yr a song






Get started

Trusted by artists worldwide

"Music Gateway reflects the reality of today, movement, freshness and technology at the same time. I love it!"

- Pamela Pagoano, Label Manager

Get started
Streaming promotion artists image
Streaming promotion artists image

How much can I earn?

Why not try out our streaming calculator and see just how much you could be possibly making. And no matter how much it is - it's 100% all yours. We will never take a cut.

Try the streaming royalties calculator Get started

Are you a label or catalogue looking to distribute large amounts of tracks?

If you are a label or have a large catalogue of songs that you would like to distribute digitally, then we can create a custom package for you. If you are looking to reduce your costs and you have other needs, such as promotion and sync management, then we can combine these services into an unbeatable all-in-one price.

We can create the perfect package for you that includes all your promotional and licencing needs.

Digital distribution

No matter the size of your catalogue, we have a digital distribution solution for you.

Music and artist promotion

From branding to media management, asset creation to airplay - we have over 30 years of experience working with artists.

Sync management

We work with some of the biggest names in the business to make sure we get the very best placement opportunities.

Sound good? Get in touch.

Call the team now on
+44 (0) 20 4509 9090 (UK)
+1 (833) 644 1108 (US)

Or send us a message

Cover Song Licensing

Cover songs are a way of helping singers to build an audience however you may require a mechanical license in some situations. It is important to recognise the laws surrounding cover songs before you start covering over artists.

You have to get a mechanical license from the original writer or publisher in order to record and release cover songs. But, musicians do not have to get a mechanical license to cover a song live, as this is down to the responsibility of the venue.

What Is A Cover Song?

You are probably wondering how to release a cover song. But first, you need to know that one is. A cover song is known as a performance/recording of an existing song that is performed by someone that isn’t the original artist. You shouldn’t need permission when covering a song live. Performances in the UK are protected by a venue’s PRS license however cover songs do need their own license. You can gain permission from the rightsholder through MCPS. Copyright is credited to the original songwriter when a song is written or recorded, as long as there is tangible evidence.

What Is A Mechanical License?

New recordings of songs that are already existing need cover song licensing. If you want to record your own version of a cover song and release it, you will need what is known as a ‘mechanical license’ which is the right to make copies of the song’s musical composition such as the lyrics and notes. If you want to release a cover version and get it distributed it is possible. You just need to make sure you register the song with the performing rights society as your version with the original songwriters attributed.

The original owner of a song has the right to regulate who makes the first record. They don’t have to grant a mechanical license when there is no previous recorded version of a song. If a song isn’t commercially released as a record then you won’t be able to get a compulsory mechanical license. The mechanical license is only for a recording. This means that the mechanical license doesn’t cover music videos or performance videos of the cover. You also won’t be able to make any significant changes to the lyrics or melody however there is scope to make your own interpretations of the performance.

Cover song licensing laws are also known as Copyright laws are in place to protect the original artist, so they gain the recognition they deserve as well as payment for their creative property.

There are two types of copyright: One for a specific recording and another for protecting the underlying lyrics and musical composition. The cover song licensing can be held by different people. Copyright for a particular recording is held by the producer of that sound recording and the rights to the underlying song will be in the hands of the songwriter, or publisher.

How To Release A Cover Song

Social media and music publishing platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube have seen an increase in cover song licensing requests, with artists wanting permission to cover the songs they want to release. Some artists gain popularity by gaining exposure through publishing cover songs in order to help them be discovered. It can lead to legal complications so you need to understand, how do I release a cover song legally?

Here are some simple steps for cover song licencing:

1. Gain cover song licencing which allows you to record and release the original composition

2. Gain an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) to determine your cover version from any others

3. Ensure you are set up to gain performance royalties

Music In The Public Domain

Many artists sign away their master rights to a record label, either for a set time or the length of the copyright (which is currently 70 years after you die). The label will then offer the artist an advance payment on future royalties, which is recouped over the period of the contract.  If you want to cover a song in the Public Domain, you won’t need a license to use it. You should always check if you suspect the song you wish to use is in the public domain but keep in mind a song may have more than one creator, so it only enters the public domain seventy years after the death of the last original creator.

How Do I Release A Cover Song Legally?

Reinventing an existing song in your own style is lots of fun and can be a significant career move. But, you need to comply with all the cover song licensing procedures.

Although live performances do not require cover song licensing as this is down to the responsibility of the venue. YouTube cover songs are usually sorted by their content ID system. Usually, other uses for copyrighted music including cover songs on an album do require more work to ensure you are distributing songs legally. To be on the safe side, you should get cover song licensing in play prior to working on any cover material. This will save you a lot of time and stress in the long run, especially if you run into copyright complications.

If you want to use copyrighted material for audio recordings such as digital streams, ensure you get a mechanical license in place. If by chance you want to use copyrighted songs in a video, then you will require a synchronisation license. 

Final Thoughts

In summary, plenty of artists begin their careers by putting out cover songs, especially since the rise of reality music shows and YouTube channels. Covering songs is a great way to get you noticed within the music industry and to discover your own style before putting out original tracks. Make sure you have the correct cover song licensing and mechanical license in place.

If you are searching for a producer for your cover. Music Gateway is here to help. We can offer representation for cover versions, plus if you want to promote a cover version check out our music promotion page.

Music Gateway Company Logo

Get started today

Join for Free