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Music Tips: How to Sell Cover Songs in iTunes

Seasoned Youtube musicians know that producing and publishing cover songs is one of the most effective ways to attract a following in their channel. Someone’s cover version of popular songs, such as Disney’s “Let it Go” from the film Frozen, can be of really good quality or maybe even better than the original that viewers may want to buy it in iTunes, or listen to it more conveniently in Spotify.

But selling or streaming covers of music that you don’t legally own can get you in a lot of legal troubles.

In earlier days, if musicians wanted to sell their songs in iTunes, employing the services of online music distributors such as CD baby or Bandcamp were the popular choices. But they only allowed you to sell songs that you own legally, as of this writing. No direct licensing of selling copyrighted cover songs, unless you acquire the license yourself.

Thankfully, those “olden” ways are going away really fast. There are now some emerging online services that make the legal process of acquiring legal permission to sell cover songs online seem easier, without the need for hefty lawyer’s fees.

The legal basis for this actually a relatively new copyright law called compulsory or statutory license which states that any individual or company seeking to license copyrighted music doesn’t need to seek permission from the copyright owner as long as the licensee pays a fixed fee with every sale.

Now there are online services that are paving the way for selling copyrighted cover songs much easier. Websites such as Limelight offers to expedite licensing processing to individuals and companies but doesn’t do anything more than that.

The Fox Parody by The String Player Gamer

On the other hand, Loudr is an online music distributor that also offers to process the licensing for uploaded cover songs which can then be sold through top stores such as iTunes and Amazon. A one stop shop if you will, for music cover artists. As of this post, I have been using Loudr to sell my video game covers for almost a year now. I’m also able to sell them in popular online stores such as Itunes and Google Play.

According to Jesse Buddington, a founding member of Loudr, their company started out “as a record label for college a cappella groups.”  Called A Cappella Records at that time, they quickly learned that they “needed to figure out how to license cover songs, as those types of songs make up about 90% of the college a cappella music out there.”  When things went smoothly, they decided to open up their services to other types of cover song musicians, as well as musicians doing original music. Thus, Loudr was born.

When asked about the process of selling cover songs, Buddington had this to say “We try to keep the process as simple for artists as possible. An artist will sign up on Loudr, create an artist account, create a new album, upload track audio, album art, and metadata, tell us which compositions are contained in their tracks and whether or not those compositions belong to someone else, and then finalize the album when everything looks good.

Our process is a bit more complex. We take the data provided by the artist and research the publishers behind the musical compositions that need licensing, working out direct deals wherever possible or occasionally going through other licensing services with whom we have a relationship. Either way, once all the songs are cleared for release, then it’s just a matter of distributing the album to each store selected by the artist – which is handled automatically by our technology once the album is fully-cleared.”Louder-Logo
Loudr has also become the go-to distributor for the rapidly growing niche of videogame cover artists such as Smooth McGroove, Taylor Davis and Lady Game Lyric. “After our success in the a cappella world, we wanted to test out another genre-specific label before opening things up to ALL artists. We had a meeting to discuss communities that were known for their cover songs, and quickly hit upon the VGM and chiptune scene. A lot of us had either participated in creating video game covers, or just grew up with and played a lot of games as kids. Because we’re all musicians at heart (and by education) we couldn’t help but feel a special connection to these iconic melodies. We decided to aggressively pursue the video game music scene, and it remains one of our strongest artist-bases to this day.” adds Buddington.

So how do you sell your covers online in Loudr?

1. Register as an Artist in Loudr
2. Upload your songs in WAV or AIFF format3. Fill out the necessary information (cover art, song titles, lyrics, story, etc.)
4. You must include the title and the original composer/performer of the cover song you are uploading
5. Submit the song and Loudr will do the rest!

As for the future of Loudr, Jesse had this to say, “Loudr is currently succeeding in putting cover songs on more-equal footing to original music in the Internet age, but it’ll take some major revision to copyright laws to truly fix the underlying problems with rights-management that Loudr was created to address. We hope that we can continue to grow in order to be able to conclusively solve that problem not only for the artists who work with us, but for musicians all over the world.”

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