Track Origin and Track Properties

In this article:

  1. Description of the key track copyright fields:
    1. Track Origin 
    2. Track Properties
  2. Their relevance for distribution: 
    1. What licenses tracks with certain characteristics may need
    2. Which DSPs they may not be appropriate for
  3. Frequently Asked Questions

Track Origin

  • Relates to the track’s composition, meaning its publishing metadata
  • Only one of 3 options can be selected:
    1. Original Work
      Your composition is original: you are not reusing someone else’s composition (melody, lyrics, and structure). Note that while a remix often reuses the original composition, it is considered an original work if it substantially alters the original recording.
    2. Cover Song
      Your song is a new performance of a song previously recorded by someone else, and you are not substantially changing the original composition (melody, lyrics, and structure), or reusing part or whole of the original recording.
      Note that recordings with lyrics translated into another language, or with lyrics substantially modified (including adding lyrics to an instrumental track) are therefore not covers; they are remixes and you should pick Original Work.
    3. Public Domain & Traditional
      Any music whose copyright has expired or is otherwise free of copyright. This also includes traditional songs and melodies, as well as any non-original religious music.

Track Properties

  • Relates to the track’s recording, meaning its master metadata
  • Multiple options can be selected (or it must be indicated that none of the options apply):
    1. RemixA new version that alters an original recording. Any derivative work, including modified versions such as sped-upslowed-downboostednightcore, etc. A remix can be produced by the original artist or by another artist/producer. Note that non-original tracks with translatedmodified or added lyrics are remixes (not covers) due to the modification of the lyrics. 
    2. Samples or StockAny recording containing samples or any stock music, be it a royalty free beat, or any loops from a sample pack or music creation software.
    3. Mix or CompilationAny form of mashup (multiple track segments joined together) or medley (multiple full tracks joined together), as well as any track in a DJ set/mix or compilation (which does not have the same ISRC as the original).
    4. Alternate VersionRadio editextended or shortened versions, as well lofilive or remastered versions.
    5. Special GenreWhite noise or sleep musicambient or meditationkaraoke or instrumentalclassical (in the sense of older music like Beethoven and not contemporary music in the classical genre).
    6. Non Musical ContentASMRsound effectsnature soundsspeechspoken wordpodcast or radio show.
    7. Includes AIIncludes music generated through artificial intelligence (AI), either in whole or in part.

Relevance for Distribution 

  • Require a license
    • Cover Song: Requires a mechanical license when distributing to iTunes in the USA, and to any DSP for certain other countries (see FAQ on Cover Songs and Remixes).
    • Remix: Requires a master license from the rights holder(s) of the original recording. Additionally, if your recording is based on an existing song whose lyrics you have translated or significantly modified, you may additionally need a license from the original lyricist.
  • May not be suitable for UGC/rights management DSPs
    (Facebook Rights Manager, Snap, TikTok Scanning, YouTube Content ID — more information)
    • Track Origin
      • Cover Song: If the cover sounds too much like the original recording, it may not be suitable for distribution to UGC/rights management DSPs depending on whether ACRcloud, PEX or Shazam identifies the original recording(s) when scanning your track.
      • Public Domain & Traditional: These types of recordings are likely to resemble other recordings and claiming videos using other people’s music. Theymay not be suitable for distribution to UGC/rights management DSPs depending on whether ACRcloud, PEX or Shazam identifies the original recording(s) when scanning your track.
    • Track Property
      • Remix: If the remix sounds too much like the original recording, it may not be suitable for distribution to UGC/rights management DSPs depending on whether ACRcloud, PEX or Shazam identifies the original recording(s) when scanning your track.
      • Special Genre: These types of recordings are unlikely to meet the criteria of being unique and/or distinct enough for UGC/rights management DSPs. Some ambient or meditation music may potentially qualify if ACRcloud, PEX or Shazam does not identify other recording(s) when scanning your track.
      • Includes AI: Given that AI generated music can closely resemble/duplicate other AI generated music, it may not be suitable for distribution to UGC/rights management DSPs depending on whether ACRcloud, PEX or Shazam identifies the other recording(s) when scanning your track.
  • Definitely not be suitable for UGC/rights management DSPs
    (Facebook Rights Manager, Snap, TikTok Scanning, YouTube Content ID)
    • Track Property
      • Samples or Stock: Given that these types of recordings include (in part or in whole) not exclusively owned sounds, they are unlikely to meet the criterion of being completely unique. They are therefore not appropriate for UGC/rights management DSPs as they will claim videos using other recordings.
      • Mix or Compilation: Given that these types of recordings are by definition duplicates (in part or in whole) of an original recording, they will not meet the criterion of being completely unique. They are therefore not appropriate for UGC/rights management DSPs as they will claim videos using other recordings. Further note that this even applies to the following cases:
        • You fully own the original recording: distributing the mix/compilation version will create a duplicate audio fingerprint on UGC DSPs which is both useless and unauthorized. 
        • You have fully licensed a track from a 3rd party for inclusion in a compilation: unless the other party has granted you exclusive rights for claiming UGC content, you will be violating your license by distributing your full compilation to UGC/rights management DSPs.
      • Alternate Version: Given that these types of recordings are by definition duplicates of an original recording (in part or in whole), they will not meet the criterion of being completely unique. They are therefore not appropriate for UGC/rights management DSPs as they will claim videos using other recordings.
      • Non Musical Content: Given that these types of recordings are unlikely to meet the criteria of being unique and/or distinct, they are not appropriate for UGC/rights management DSPs as they will claim videos using other recordings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between a cover song and a remix?

A cover song and a remix are two distinct concepts, each with its own definition and licensing requirements. Let’s break them down:

Cover Song:

  • A cover song is a new performance or recording of a previously recorded song by someone other than the original artist.
  • The track’s composition is reused, meaning the melody, lyrics, and structure remain largely the same, but the performance is new.
  • A cover requires a mechanical license, as it involves the use of the original composition. In most cases, this licensing responsibility is handled by the DSPs — there are only a few exceptions.
  • If a cover song substantially modifies the lyrics (translates them into another language or significantly edits them) this will typically require obtaining an additional license from the lyricist or their representative. Websites such as lyricfind.com can assist. 

Remix:

  • A remix is a new version of a track that alters the original recording, often by changing elements such as tempo, instrumentation, or adding new sounds.
  • A remix can be produced by the original artist or by another artist or producer.
  • While a remix does reuse the original composition, it is considered an original production if it substantially alters the original recording.
  • A remix does not require a mechanical license if it is produced with the authorization of the original rights holder.
  • However, if it’s an unofficial remix, it would need proper licensing.


Q: How should we categorize a track’s origin if it’s a remix?

Here’s the guideline:

  • Cover Songshould be selected if the track is a new performance by a different artist, adhering closely to the original composition and not significantly modifying (including translating or fully removing) the lyrics.
  • Original Work should be selected if the track is a remix, as the intent is to create a new, original production using the existing composition.