Musicians getting in trouble with the law – well, that’s nothing new. What’s a good music resume without a couple of arrest reports to fill out the career dips? But what about that YouTube “take down” notice you just received for the video you posted of your band covering “Freebird?” You got a mechanical license to release the song on your CD (right?), and the video turned out awesome, so you owe it to the world to post it online. But did you get a sync license for your online videos of cover songs?
“When you attempt to ‘synch’ a sound recording of a song with any audio/visual element, you also need to obtain a synchronization license (or sync license). This is a separate, negotiable license that allows you to use a particular piece of music in synch with other visual elements, such as in your music video.”
That’s a snippet of what CD Baby’s resident entertainment attorney/blogger Christiane Cargill Kinney posted on The DIY Musician blog in her thorough explanation of the requirements for posting videos of cover songs online. The article is titled “Posting Cover Songs on YouTube: Music Licensing Law Explained,” and it’s filled with serious information about compulsory mechanical licenses, broadcast licenses, re-print licenses, sync licenses, and so on, and so on. As she puts it, “There are about as many music licenses as there are ‘Beliebers,’ and they each serve different purposes.”
Then be prepared to take down that “Bohemian Rhapsody” spoof you thought would go viral. (Speaking of, if you have another 6 minutes and 38 seconds to spare, you’ll find that William Shatner beat you to it.)