Following YouTubers really closely, ever wondered how their videos never got taken down from YouTube for singing covers? Or even getting sued for selling covers? It definitely plagued my mind for a bit and then I finally got out of my procrastination mode and searched for answers.
First, what is a cover song? Simply put, it is a song which is not owned and written by you and you perform or record it. You are doing a cover of a famous song! In order to cover the song without getting sued, a certain payment has to be made.
A cover song is the everyday term for a song that is being performed or recorded by a different artist(s) than the one that wrote it or the one that first made it famous… According to the law, once a song subject to U.S. Copyright has been recorded and distributed publicly, anyone can obtain a license and record the song, and pay statutory royalty rates. –Sue Basko
Sue Basko, an expert lawyer in the musics and creative businesses in California and Illinois wrote a full detailed post on cover songs. It finally opened up my understanding on the laws. If you want to record ans sell your songs you need a license called ‘mechanical license’.
A mechanical license is the compulsory license that allows you to record and sell someone else’s song in the U.S., and in exchange you pay royalties to the songwriter at statutory rates, which is 9.1 cents per copy for songs 5 minutes and less. For songs longer than 5 minutes, it is 1.75 cents per minute, rounded up. – Sue Basko
As far as I know, some of the local artists may not even have bought license to cover the songs. As long as they put a disclaimer (and maybe not get any money from it), I guess it could be possible that they will allow the musicians to cover the song or maybe they are just lucky for now.