License Music
What is a Mechanical License?
A mechanical license grants the rights to reproduce and distribute copyrighted musical compositions (songs) on CDs, records, tapes, ringtones, permanent digital downloads, interactive streams and other digital configurations supporting various business models, including locker-based music services and bundled music offerings. If you want to record and distribute a song that you don’t own or control, or if your business requires the distribution of music that was written by others, you need to obtain a mechanical license. A mechanical license doesn’t include the use of a song in a video. That use requires a synchronization license which you will need to obtain by contacting the publisher(s) directly.

HFA issues mechanical licenses for reproductions of musical compositions (songs) embodied in sound recordings that are manufactured and distributed in the U.S only. However, a foreign licensee of digital reproductions can obtain mechanical licenses from HFA in order to distribute those digital reproductions in the U.S., regardless of the country in which the computer server transmitting the digital reproductions is located.

HFA does not issue mechanical licenses for physical products that are manufactured outside of the U.S. These types of products require an import license in order to be distributed in U.S. territories.



A mechanical license DOES NOT grant the right to:
  • Reproduce sound recordings, also known as “master use rights”.
    • Master use rights are required for previously recorded material that you don’t own or control. HFA doesn’t issue master use licenses. Master use rights can only be obtained from the owner of the master recording, usually a record company.
    • You should obtain a master use license from the owner prior to requesting a mechanical license from HFA.

  • Include the song in a video.
    • If you are distributing a video that includes music you don’t own or control, you may need a synchronization license. You will need to contact the publisher(s) directly to obtain these rights.
    • Many publishers have an agreement with YouTube which permits many uses. For more information, click here.
    • If you are distributing a video for non-commercial use that includes music you don’t own or control, you may be able to obtain a synchronization license using eSynch.

  • Perform the song in public.
    • The performance right is granted by publishers or societies for the public performance of a song. If you need to license performance rights, you should contact ASCAP, BMI or SESAC.

  • Display or reprint lyrics.

  • Use the song in digital jukeboxes, background music or ringbacks.

  • Print sheet music.
    • For these rights, you will need to contact the publisher(s) directly.

  • Use the song or lyrics in karaoke or "CD+G" products.
    • For these rights, you will need to contact the publisher(s) directly.
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