Legaly posting cover songs on youtube?


New member
Hello guys,

is there any way to legally post cover songs on youtube? I've read some text about it and I'm still not sure about whether I need some mechanical/sync licencing or should I just post it and wait for youtube algorithm to see which artist it is?

I don't want any monetization from it, just brand building but different sources says that that might, or might not be the problem (just post it and let youtube do the rest)?

Does anyone have some more info on this matter?

Best regards,
For most music, Youtube has already negotiated the sync licensing. I think it will auto-detect the song based on video title, etc. Then YT will automatically put the ads on it and route the monetization to the owners
I have posted a few videos on Youtube with all but two being covers done at jam sessions. Only ONE has had copyright claim, and that was for the song Pretty Woman. The strange part is that it is NOT AVAILABLE unless you were given the video URL, and that was only posted on one forum in a private area. There's no way it would have showed up publicly and been flagged if Youtube was not doing the searches. The name of the song wasn't in the title or description. That was only one song out of a half dozen in the video and took about 2 minutes of the 30 minute total.

So I lost all the monetization for the 36 views that it got! I hope they don't spend that .002 cents unwisely.

Until you start hitting numbers like Pomplamoose, I wouldn't worry too much. At that point, you can work out the details, and alternate strategies, like setting up a Patreon account.
Youtube and Shazzam are linked now I think, so they detect the rights owner very quickly. I've got cover songs on there. If they do not detect a match then there is no rights issue. If they detect a match most will trigger a message saying the video cannot be monitized and any revenue goes to the copyright holder. However, there is a third option available to the rights holder - they can trigger replacement of the offending music and it gets replaced with bird song, or waves on the shore or other random stuff. Most rights holder opt to take the money, if any is generated. These options are listed in your private list of tracks. It can suddenly show 'rights claim'. Rights claim is NOT a copyright strike. When it detects a similarity, followed by the claim, you have the option to challenge it. A few boxes to tick and then you get a warning that challenging a claim can be expensive with legal stuff - but you can register a challenge. I've done this a few times when Sony claimed music I wrote and recorded - I knew it was mine, so challenged it. 3 months later, you get a message saying they have withdrawn their claim. As to if you get any money - that depends on how you get the music there. If your music is distributed my the Distrokid Monkeys, or somebody decent, they handle the right and the royalty collection.

You can find cover versions on YouTube and if you've put them there via a distributor and have cleared the music, you get your 0.002 cents.

I get some royalties for a new arrangement of an old song. Mine is slower and an instrumental, and the royalties get split 50/50 with the original writer. I actually got some royalties when he used my version as walk on music in a tour he did, which was nice. Didn't amount to much, but we both got something!
I've found a great video on this matter. How To Legally Post Cover Songs To YouTube | Get Paid!
There are websites that legalize your cover for monetization like wearethehits. This also makes a opportunity to get paid with cover songs (if someone is interested in that). Does anyone from forum use this kind of websites to legally post covers?
I am just searching for ways to post it without youtube channel banned (because I've heard that this also can happen if you post cover songs without some licences).


Best regards,
This is what we've been talking about. The only thing to remember is that you get a share of the royalties - about 40%. Not all the record companies are represented but most modern songs are. What happens is that they create a Youtube page with your music on (there is a little 'provided by' notice) it does NOT go on your own YouTube account, just the one created for you. As they put so many tracks on YouTube, they have far more privileges than an individual has.

I'd not heard of these people, but I might try a sign up to see how it works and what they really charge. It looks like they get 10% of the royalties so that may mean there are no hidden extras. I note their restrictions are the usual ones - mash-ups and other medleys being impossible to negotiate automatically.

With all these things, make sure your name is unique. One of ours has got really messed up and an American artist of the same name has been merged with ours on Spotify, and although he is far more famous, his statements show he doesn't make huge amounts of money. We're using a different name for some of the people we represent now - their middle name included which makes it more 'unique'.


This is the info you get when you sign up
  1. In consideration of the rights granted pursuant to this agreement, WATH shall pay to Artist a royalty equal to WATH’s "Per Video Income" multiplied by (i) forty percent (40%) with respect to Artist Videos embodying Compositions; (ii) eighty percent (80%) with respect to Artist Videos embodying Controlled Compositions; or (iii) twenty-five percent (25%) with respect to Lyric Videos (collectively, the "Royalty"). Per Video Income shall mean the actual income received by or credited to WATH in connection with and allocated to Artist Videos (or Lyric Videos) less any third party costs or deductions incurred by or charged to WATH including, without limitation, third party distribution fees, commissions and ad service costs.
  2. In the event that WATH receives a claim with respect to any Artist Video, then WATH shall have the right to withhold payment of Royalties in connection with such Artist Video or Lyric Video until such claim has been resolved.
That's a little different. I can't see what their definition of a 'controlled composition' is yet. If this is an opt in feature available to the original artist, then you're down to 20% and considering Spotify pay 0.002 cents per stream - that's a very, very small amount of money.

There is also the option to publish these to your own channel, but I'm not sure how that would work because YouTube would need to pay different organisations for different tracks - that would be somewhat difficult to track? probably a dedicated Youtube would work better. Imagine trying to validate random amounts of money like this?
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Putting a copyright claim on your post does not go as a strike against your account. It simply takes monetization off the table unless you contest it. This is what is on my video:
Pretty Woman.jpg
First: I AM NOT A LAWYER. Second: I'm strictly speaking of the US here.

Legally you can and should receive money from a cover, even on YouTube. You just need a mechanical license for the song through HFA or another org. The songwriter(s) own the work/composition but you own the sound recording. See this information. I don't know how thing work with YouTube so much but I do know that if you use a distribution company like CD Baby, Distrokid, etc. and distribute to YouTube then a video will be auto-generated for the song (even a cover) and part of the money for the streams will come back to you while the other part will go to the songwriters.

I don't know how it works with self-posted video, or videos of live performances. I assume it says so somewhere in

@NicholasBurgesse NOTE: A sync license is something different. That is for posting the original song "synchronized" to video AFAIK
I certainly get YouTube pennies for covers. If I post them direct, they usually get copyright grabs, but when supplied by distributors, they don't - I'm experimenting with a few new distributors who say they handle the licence part easier, but so far they seem not too. Youtube and Spotify seem immune outside America and India because they don't do downloads, but if you want music on download sites, then HFA seem to be the one you get directed to, but to us non-Americans they're hardly easy or friendly to do direct deals with. It's really a gamble when you do a cover. You never know if it will go through, after all the work.