Disc Wizards

Cover song licensing

An informative guide on obtaining licensing for cover songs

What is classified as a cover song and do I need to pay royalties to put one on my CD?

A cover song is defined as a new recording that was previously written, recorded and released by another artist. No matter how different and unique your recording is, the original creator legally owns the song and is therefore entitled to royalties from it.

If you’re planning to sell your CDs for profit then a licence is required, no matter the order quantity.

What if my CD is for promotional purposes?

If you’re not planning to sell your CDs for profit, and instead intending for them to be given away as promo items, then you will still need to apply for the relevant licence but as long as you’re manufacturing less than 1500 albums or 3000 singles then you won’t have to pay any royalties.

  1. To be considered as a promotional copy, the below criteria needs to be met:
    The CD case should have “PROMOTIONAL COPY – NOT FOR SALE” clearly visible as part of the permanent print.
  2. The promotional CDs should only be supplied free of charge to a DJ, broadcaster, reviewer or other appropriate party for promotional purposes.

How do I obtain a MCPS Limited Manufacture (LM) or AP1/AP2 licence?

Thankfully, getting the right licensing in place is a very straightforward process.

If you’re an unsigned performer/band you’ll need to apply for something called a Limited Manufacture licence, which will grant you permission to record and distribute your cover song.

If you are a small record company then you’ll need to apply for an MCPS AP1 or AP2 agreement.

You can apply for the MCPS LM or AP1/AP2 licence from PRS for Music at the below links:

Limited Manufacture Licence

AP1/AP2 agreement

How much does it cost?

The rates for a LM licence start from £27.57 for 50 copies with audio of 25 mins and under.
For more information on pricing, click here.


So whilst the idea of getting licensing for a cover song can seem quite daunting, the actual process is simple.

If you’d like to discuss further with one of our team you can email or call us on 020 886 12349.

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