If you want to record or distribute a song that you do not own or control, U.S. Copyright Law requires that you get a mechanical license. This is required regardless of whether or not you are selling the copies that you make. If your church wants to produce a CD with songs for distribution or sale, the process of tracking down all the licenses you need may be very time-consuming.

Many distributors and online music sites require that you have a mechanical license in place before they duplicate your recording or offer it online. If you want to do the work yourself, there are some helpful resources listed later in this post.

A few organizations will take care of most of the leg work for you. You will pay them a service fee PLUS all license fees (royalties) owed to the copyright owners. Here are three of the bigger players:

Copy Clear

  • CopyClear will complete all the research and filing requests of your mechanical licenses for a one-time fee of $150.00 for up to ten songs on a single audio CD project, in addition to the normal royalty fees. (Extra songs may be included for $8.00 each.)
  • License requests for synchronization, limited downloads, interactive streaming, pre-recorded commercial tracks, print reproduction, and theater performance are all handled on a case by case basis. Obtaining permissions for these licenses can be difficult, time consuming, and often disappointing. Please contact CopyClear for more information.

Easy Song Licensing

  • Easy Song Licensing will complete all the research and filing requests of your mechanical license for a fee of $16.99 per song plus royalties.


  • In addition to royalty fees, there is a per-song processing fee of $16 for up to five songs. If you license 6 or more songs at one time, the processing fee is reduced to $14 per song.


Researching song publishing information:

Best resources for securing licenses on your own:

  • Harry Fox Agency  HFA is the leading provider of rights management, licensing and royalty services for the U.S. music industry and was established in 1927 by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) as an agency to license, collect, and distribute royalties on behalf of musical copyright owners. HFA offers a wide range of licensing, collection, distribution, and royalty compliance services, as well as various online tools designed to help music publishers manage their catalogs.
  • Capitol CMG Publishing  As a full-service music publisher, Capitol CMG Publishing represents more than 100,000 songs, hundreds of copyright catalogs. Their website includes full-service online licensing.
  • Music Services The company manages the licensing and royalty accounting for more than 25 record labels of all sizes and musical genres and more than 200 music publishers. At present, the company manages over 300,000 songs and 175,000 record and product masters

Additional resources: