A mechanical license pays a royalty to the copyright holder (owner) of the composition (song) being requested. This is typically the composer or their publisher. However, sometimes mechanical rights change hands, such as when they are sold. If mechanical rights are sold, a song might have a new owner, other than the original composer or publisher. For this reason, it is important to locate the current copyright holders before making a mechanical request. When we handle your mechanical licensing, we research and discover the current copyright holders for you for free.
It is important to note that underlying what most people think of as a "song" is actually two components: the composition (music notes and lyrics that make up a song, created by the composers) and the original sound recording (audio recording of musicians performing the song, created by the artists). Often the composers and artists are the same people, but not always. These song components can be owned separately by different entities. For this reason, there are different types of licenses to protect the two types of creations: 1) a mechanical license (audio-only) or synchronization license (video) for the composer to protect the composition, and 2) a master license for the recording artist to protect the original recording. It's important to understand both components, and both types of licenses when obtaining permission for a "song:"
1) Musical Composition (mechanical or synchronization rights)
The composition is the music notes and lyrics that define a song. The rights to the composition are usually owned by the composer or their publisher. Permission is obtained through a mechanical license (audio-only) or synchronization license (video).
2) Sound Recording (master rights)
The recording is a recorded performance of the composition (song). The rights to the recording are usually owned by the artist or their record label. Permission is obtained through a master license.