Basic Song Licensing Information

If you are new to the song licensing process and are not sure where to start, here is a basic tutorial on what a publisher / administrator will want to know before issuing you your Mechanical License or your Digital Performance Download license (DPD)

Let’s start with the basics. Who needs to request for a Mechanical License?
Anyone who is recording a song to put on a CD or other means of listening device! There is no limiting number that you can be under and not have to request a license. If you plan on making 10 CD’s, 300 CD’s 1,000 CD’s or any other amount, and you plan on exchanging money in any form, be it set price or for a donation, you must by law request for a Mechanical License.

Next, we will go through some terms. There are two different places you may have to request your license from, Publishers or Administrators.
Publishers first, a song may have more than one publisher with it. This is especially common when a song has more than one writer. You can find this out by online searches with,, or You will need to have the song title and at least one of the writers to find the song you are looking for, since there can be multiple songs with the same title. Once you find the song you are looking for on any of these three sites, they will show you who the publisher is and that publisher’s contact information.

Administrators: Many publishers use administrative companies to handle all of their licensing; for example, Chris White Music is administered through Clearbox Rights. Usually BMI, ASCAP & SESAC will list these administrators as the contact for the publishers so you will know who to contact. Some publishers handle their own licensing in house. BMI, ASCAP & SESAC will show that as well.

Here is the information an administrator or a publisher will want from you.
Artist Name: Your group or solo name (John Doe Trio, or John Doe)
Project Title: What you plan to name your project (Sweet Beulah Land)
Record Label: Independent, (unless you are recording for a label in which case they would be doing this for you!)
CD Identification Number: This may be issued by your recording studio, or just something you come up with such as JDT2012 (John Doe Trio 2012)
Release Date: This is the projected date you plan on having finished product in your hands
Song Title: The title of the song you are recording (Sweet Beulah Land)
Writer: The Author of the song you are recording (Squire Parsons)
Publisher: Who the song is published through (Beulah Music)
Affiliate PRO: Performing Rights Organization (BMI / ASCAP or SESAC)
Song Time: The length of the song (3:45)

If you plan on selling your songs for “Digital Downloads” on your site or through a second party online distributor, you will also need to request a Digital Performance Download (DPD) License. You can let them know this when you are requesting your mechanical license