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How To Legally Do A YouTube Song Cover

*This article may contain links to affiliate products & services. We have reviewed these services to try and ensure the highest quality recommendations*

Written by Jaron Lewis

Doing covers legally on YouTube has become a lot easier in the past five years. A compromise has been found so creators and cover artists can benefit from working together. Below are two things you’ll need, if you’re a cover artist, to cover a song on YouTube legally.

How To Get A Mechanical License

mechanical license allows anyone to do a cover version of an artist’s song. The license can be obtained in various ways depending on the country you’re in. If you’re in Canada, the CMRRA can help you obtain a license and if you’re in America, the Harry Fox Agency can help you. This gives you the avenue to compensate the label if your video makes money. The current rate for this kind of monetization is 9.1 cents in the United States and 8.3 cents in Canada; this is called a statutory royalty fee.

There are many layers to copyright law. A Mechanical License only gives you the right to reproduce and distribute the song, which YouTube allows you to do; however, it doesn’t allow you to publicly perform or put the song on public display. This breaks the license.

How To Get A Sync License

Sync license is the other side of covering songs on YouTube within the law. This license allows you to publish the song to YouTube. Getting this license can require you to contact the copyright owner and negotiate for it. Because it’s very difficult to get this license, so it’s better to opt for abiding by YouTube’s Content ID program. Under the program, the copyright owner can take down if they don’t want you to use their creations.

If the copyright owner likes your song, they can opt to take a share of the profits made from ad revenue. Of course, they could also leave the video alone entirely, but they will be notified that their work is being used by someone else.

Three Strikes

If you fail to get permission and continue to use the copyright’s owner creation, actions will be taken. At most, you will be sued, but this isn’t likely. Most of the time your video will be deleted from YouTube.

However, if you reach three strikes, your account may be deleted as well as all your videos. This is known as the “three strikes” policy. In addition, you’ll permanently be blocked from making new YouTube accounts and using the community feature.

Wrapping Up 

Being a YouTube cover artist can launch your career as a musician. Many artists were found on the platform such as Justin BieberSoujia Boy and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Performing fantastic covers of popular songs can launch your career. A recent example is Alex Aiono. Although he writes his own songs, his channel prominently features covers of popular hip hop and R&B songs. Currently, his channel has 4.8 million subscribers. Pentatonix, another YouTube darling, mainly covers current and past songs of different genres. They’re subscriber count is over 13.2million.

When your song is ready to go, it's time to start promoting it to potential fans! Omari has the best organic promotion services money can buy. With packages for Spotify, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, we will get your music the traffic and attention it deserves! Click below for more information.  


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*Here are some small samples of the playlists in our network. Obviously, we aren't able to share every single list for confidentiality reasons, but these are a handful of examples out of the hundreds of playlists we have in our network.*

Playlists This Song Was Featured In

Contemporary Christian Music (33K Followers)

Louvores - Gospel (62K Followers)

Playlists This Song Was Featured In

Clean Rap & RNB (25K Followers)

Top Hits From New Artists (20K Followers)

Chill Music (38K Followers)

Playlists This Song Was Featured In

Today's Pop Hits (38K Followers)

Gaming Playlist & Workout Radio (23K Followers)

Playlists This Song Was Featured In

Forest Gump Soundtrack (50K Followers)

Stagecoach (15K Followers)

Best of Country Hits (2K Followers)

Playlists This Song Was Featured In

Acoustics For Relaxing (48K Followers)

Chill Music (9K Followers)

Playlists This Song Was Featured In

Hard Rock Workout (70K Followers)

Rock Hits (5K Followers)

Playlists This Song Was Featured In

Funky Songs Playlist (190K Followers)

Clean Rap & RNB (10K Followers)

[EDM/Future Bass] Melvin - Luv Again

Playlists This Song Was Featured In

Top Hits From New Artists (20K Followers)

Electro-mania (6K Followers)

Best Workout Playlist (14K Followers)




[Hip Hop] K-Rich - We Workin  


[Hip Hop] Surve - Found My Way  

*Note: Songs may have ordered promotion from other sources as well. Small, medium, and large only denote the amount of promotion that was ordered from our service.  



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Kid Travis Instagram:

Kid Travis YouTube:

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