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How to Offer a Mechanical License for Your Own Music
Article by David Nevue - Mar. 2004
Back to Internet Music Promotion 101

Are you confused about how to make your music available for licensing to other people? You're not alone. I recently received the below email from a visitor confused about this issue. Here's the advice I gave him...

"I just recently downloaded your book, "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet". You state you can copyright all of your songs on a CD at one time using Form SR. ( Which I agree). How does this affect issuing a mechanical license to someone if they want to use one song from my CD? Do you then copyright the individual song on form PA?"

Actually, the register of copyright doesn't have a whole lot to do with the licensing of your songs. Yes, before licensing your material, you'll want to register it with the copyright office to protect your work, but whether you use Form PA or SR really doesn't really matter. The point of registration is so that you have a legal leg to stand on if someone should steal your song and say it's theirs. By using Form SR, you're simplifying the copyright process by registering your entire CD at once.
As to mechanical licensing, that is handled primarily by the Harry Fox Agency.However, before you can use them as your licensing agency, you must first be a recognized publisher with a PRO organization (BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC). So if you haven't signed up with a PRO as a publisher, you'll need to do that first, then submit each of your songs to their database as individual works with you named as publisher.

Once that's done, you can then apply to Harry Fox as a publisher, andfrom that point on, they will handle any mechanical licensing requests for your songs.

If you're an independent artist, however, you'll may actually find it easier and more straight-forward to just have people come to you directly to request a license. Unless you're receiving a continuous barrage of licensing requests, this is personally the way I would go. That's what I do. Once you reach a point at which you can't handle all the license requests individually anymore, you can then let Harry Fox handle the job, if you like.

So what should you charge to license your song for use on someone else's CD, DVD or video project? I keep it simple. I charge $75/song per 1000 units manufactured. Of course, there are variations on that depending on the songs use and purpse, but that is, generally speaking, the price I start from.


NOTICE: The above information is offered for general informational purposes only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You are cautioned to seek the advice of your own attorney concerning the applicability of the general principles discussed above to your own particular activities.


David Nevue is the founder of The Music Biz Academy. He is also a professional pianist, recording artist, full-time Internet musician, and author of the book, "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet."

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