Can I upload cover songs to Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, TIDAL, Deezer, etc.

We offer free distribution of your music to all of the world’s top stores and streaming services, and we can send your cover songs of other artists too.

At RouteNote we make it simple and free to get your music online on all the top digital stores and streaming services so people all around the world can find and hear your music. We don’t just do original music though, you can upload your covers of your favourite tracks as well.

Before you do though there’s a few things you need to be aware of to make sure that we can put up your cover songs on the world’s biggest services and you can get paid legally for every play and download.


For releasing cover songs online you don’t need a license and can just upload it and release it. EXCEPT in a few certain territories:

  • The United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • India

You will need to exclude these territories to distribute your release to the rest of the world unless you have acquired a mechanical license to release a cover of the song(s) you have recorded.

However Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Saavn, Nuuday, Anghami, Tidal, and KKBox pay for their own licenses for cover songs. This means that you can distribute your covers to these services worldwide.

It cannot use any samples from the original recording, and cannot alter the melody, lyrics or original composition.

You can acquire licenses for the US and associated territories from Affordable Song Licensing or from the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) for distribution in these territories on all services.


When you upload your release you will need to format it slightly differently for a cover release to ensure that the original artist is credited correctly.

You must credit the original artist in the ‘C Line’ (Composition Copyright) of the album details. This will be under Album Details when uploading your release through RouteNote.

Make sure that you credit the name of the performing artist and not the composers. For example, if you were to cover Don’t Let Me Down then you would need to list ‘The Beatles’ and not name ‘John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr’.

If you have multiple covers in your release then list each artist in the ‘C Line’ one after the other, separated by commas. For example: The Beatles, Elton John, Madonna, etc.

Only mention the original artists in the ‘C Line’ section and not anywhere else in your release, including artist fields, track fields, or in the cover art.

Samples and Backing Tracks

As with all releases you cannot use any samples or backing tracks unless they are original or you have the licenses/permissions required to use it.

This means that you can’t include any samples from the original track or any other songs without the correct documented permissions or mechanical licenses

Public Domain

If a composition is in the public domain then you may not need a license to cover it.

Works remain under copyright for between 50 to 70 years – depending on the country – after the original composers death. After this period of time, works become public domain and their stores/territory restrictions will no longer apply.

Likewise if you wish to sample a sound recording that is in the public domain, you may be able to use the recording without acquiring a license.

Cover Song Distribution Q&A

What counts as a cover song? What music is in the public domain? Do I need a mechanical license? Where can I obtain a license? How do I format my metadata for distribution? You’ll need to know all of these answers before uploading your cover songs to RouteNote.

We’ll answer the most common questions related to distributing a cover song to streaming services and download stores around the world below. If you have a question we haven’t covered then leave a comment or get in touch with us at where we will be happy to provide more information.

What counts as a cover?

A cover song is when an artist plays, records, or recreates the composition of another artist. For example: All Along the Watchtower is a song originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan. When Jimi Hendrix re-imagined it in his own style and recorded a new version of the track, he created a cover song.

A cover can be any song that uses any of the original songs compositional elements; chords, key, lyrics, etc.. The term includes:

  • Original instrumental versions
  • Parodies: Using an instrumental cover with your own lyrics
  • A small portion of another composition’s musical elements or lyrics
  • One cover song in an album of originals

Note that you cannot include recorded samples from the original song without permission from the rightsholder. To use a karaoke/instrumental backing track to record vocals or individual instrument parts on a cover, you would need to check the rights of the recording you’re using.

Where can I distribute my music without a license?

There are a number of stores and territories in which you will not need to acquire a mechanical license to distribute your cover songs commercially, as the licenses will be arranged by other parties.

Without spending cash on a mechanical license, you can distribute original cover songs to:

  • All stores but excluding: USA, Canada, Mexico, Pakistan, and India
  • All countries for the following services: Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Saavn, Nuuday, Anghami, Tidal, and KKBox

To distribute to all stores and all territories you will need to obtain a mechanical license for the legal distribution rights.

For step-by-step instructions on how to distribute a release to specific countries and stores, click here.

Where can I obtain a mechanical license?

If you are not associated with someone (like a record label or publisher) who is in charge of arranging your musical copyrights, you will need to purchase a mechanical license for your cover song yourself.

In more simple circumstances, you may be able to arrange permission directly with the original rightsholder. For example, if you’re covering a song written by a friend or a smaller artist they may be able to offer their approval to you directly. Ensure any written permission includes the terms of how and where their material can be used, features a date of signature, and that it is provably from the rightsholder.

For example, you could ask for an email from the artist stating:

I give the artist ‘Your Name Here’ permission to distribute unlimited downloads and streams of their cover version of my original composition ‘Song Name. This permission extends to any digital service and in any territory.

In many cases, particularly if the original rightsholder is a popular artist and/or has a major label representing them, you will need to obtain and probably pay for a mechanical license. There are agencies you can go through to save the difficulty of trying to reach the artist/label/representative directly.

You can purchase mechanical licenses from the following sites:

You will need to provide an estimation of the copies you expect to sell and stream to select the correct pricing for your release. Bear in mind that if you exceed your listed units then you will need to arrange another license. You’ll be able to keep track of your sales and streams with in-depth reports when you distribute your music through RouteNote, thanks to our monthly reports.

The current standard royalty rate is $0.095 for a download of a track. This must be paid on top of a processing fee, which for Harry Fox is $13-15.

Unfortunately it’s not that simple for streams, as there is no fixed rate on the revenue earned by a stream. Mechanical Royalties from streaming are calculated as 11.4% to 15.1% of the gross streaming revenue of the company, minus the cost of public Performance Royalties. These rates are set by the Copyright Royalty Board and may have changed as you are reading this, as the recently launched Mechanical Licensing Collective is trying to return rates to pre-2018 times when the rate stood at 10.5%.

If you’re distributing through RouteNote, you can attach your license in an email to so that we can approve your release and upload it to your chosen destinations.

You can upload your music for free through us at to all of the top stores and streaming services.

RouteNote reach the top 30 of the FEBE Growth 100 list of fastest growing UK companies

Image Credit: FEBE

The FEBE Growth 100 lists the 100 fastest growing UK companies – and RouteNote are over the moon to be ranked at number 27.

RouteNote is proud to have made the FEBE Growth 100 list of the fastest growing companies in the UK, coming in at number 27. Today, we’re celebrating!

FEBE Growth 100 celebrates entrepreneurship, listing the top founder-led fastest-growing UK businesses. Other companies making the list in 2022 include Huel, Gousto and Bloom & Wild.

febe growth 100

In a statement FEBE said:

“There are 4.2m private companies in the UK. Just 1% or 45,000 of these are considered ‘high growth.’

The essence of FEBE is entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs. We exist to inspire and champion our country’s best ‘dare-to-doers.’

“We know how important it is to celebrate our country’s founders and their businesses, and the Growth 100 does just that.”

See the whole list of the top 100 fastest growing companies in the UK here!

This year at RouteNote we were also thrilled to be awarded the 2022 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade, as well as being listed at number 33 on the Growth Index, another ranking of fastest growing UK companies. 

RouteNote has grown from humble beginnings in rural Cornwall in 2007 to one of the biggest digital music distributors in Europe, with 250 staff, and the founders are still closely involved to this day.

Our growing success is possible only because of the artists and record labels who trust us to take care of their songs, and our dedicated team working hard to get their music heard around the globe.

We’re looking forward to more success throughout 2022, and we’re taking all our amazing artists with us along for the ride.

Get your music online with RouteNote for free. Join our movement here!

How to upload music to JOOX for free – RouteNote’s new partner

Image Credit: JOOX

RouteNote have partnered with Tencent-owned music streaming app JOOX, to help independent artists share their music to more Asian markets.

Launched in 2015 by Chinese tech and entertainment company Tencent, music streaming service JOOX targets other Asian markets, including Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar. Since launching, JOOX is now the biggest music streaming app in these markets, being responsible for around half of all music streaming app downloads there.

On top of 40 million songs and recommended playlists to fit your mood, JOOX is full of social music experiences, such as karaoke, letting you sing along with your favourite singers, live videos from your favourite artists, live video group chat rooms, and trending short videos.

The app is available across devices, such as iOS, Android, desktop, Android TV, Google Nest and on JOOX is a freemium music streaming app, with the majority of the music available for free, supported by banner ads and splash ads, rather than most other music streaming apps, like Spotify, that plays audio ads between tracks. “VIP” premium subscriptions are also available for ad-free, hi-fi, offline audio.

Image Credit: JOOX

How to get your own music on JOOX

RouteNote have been partnered with Tencent Music for some time now, helping independent artists and labels distribute their music to Chinese streaming services QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo. Now RouteNote are expanding this partnership to include JOOX too.

Existing users‘ music will be sent to JOOX automatically. Please contact to opt out.

New users can sign up to RouteNote for free, upload their tracks and artwork, input the metadata, then select JOOX on the Manage Stores page. Finally, choose between Free and Premium distribution. Free costs nothing, while you keep 85% of the revenue generated. Premium costs a small fee, while you keep 100% of the revenue. All features and stores between the models are the same. Switching tiers at any time is super easy.

Once your release is finalized, it’ll be sent to our moderation team and, all being well, sent off a few days later. As your music picks up streams, the statistics and payments will be made to your RouteNote account. Revenue can be withdrawn to a PayPal, Payoneer or bank account.

RouteNote is non-exclusive, meaning even if your music is released elsewhere, you can still distribute to JOOX and other new stores via RouteNote.

What are you waiting for? Head to RouteNote to start sharing your music with the world today!

RouteNote are #33 on the Growth Index Top 100 2022

Image Credit: Growth Index

Growth Index is a new annual league highlighting the fastest growing companies in the UK. RouteNote are proud to rank number 33.

Britain’s new Growth Index counts the top 100 companies achieving the biggest growth in sales. The list is based on a financial analysis of the compound annual growth (CAGR) of 32,000 companies over the last two years.

RouteNote are proud to achieve position number 33 on the inaugural Growth Index 2022. None of this would be possible without the hard work of our teams and all of the amazing artists sending their music to RouteNote everyday. We want to thank everyone for helping us get to where we are today.

You can find all of the top 100 companies here.

Today’s successful leaders must cope with significant change and uncertainty, accelerated for everyone by technological, political, cultural and demographic trends. Growing businesses in particular must also cope with their own rapid pace of change.

Our new Index shines a light on those companies which grew despite economic global uncertainty, revealing the ones to watch and the stories behind the numbers.

Orlando Martins, Founder, Growth Index and ORESA

RouteNote has earned the Queen’s Award for Enterprise

We are thrilled to be awarded with the UK’s most prestigious award for business.

We have come a long way from our humble beginnings in 2007 as an independent music distribution company working out of Cornwall. We are now the leading digital distributor in Europe working with over 750,000 artists to get their music heard around the world.

We have been recognised by royalty (the Queen!) who has awarded us with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade for 2022. We feel incredibly honoured to be awarded with the most prestigious award a business in the UK can earn.

We’re being recognised for our work in the international music business, empowering artists with:

  • A global reach for artists of all sizes from any corner of the globe
  • Market-leading free music distribution to all the major digital music services
  • Competitive pricing on a Premium tier allowing artists and labels to keep 100% of their profits
  • Providing independent artists with powerful tools to share and grow their music online

This award comes from the hard work and dedication of our amazing team who put their all in to providing the best possible service for artists. We are constantly seeking new opportunities to empower the artists and labels who work with us and we are proud to join the journey of so many independent creators as they find their international success through us.

Of course, the artists, labels, and creators who use RouteNote to get themselves heard are a huge part of the reason why we’re earning this award. We couldn’t do it without the work of our team and the commitment of our artists to creating the music that keeps the world spinning with a soundtrack.

We are honoured to receive a Queens Award. RouteNote has been on a journey to create a global music ecosystem for Artists and Labels and this is recognition that we are heading in the right direction.

I want to truly thank the entire RouteNote Team around the globe, and all the artists and labels who have shaped what RouteNote is today. We are always looking forward and excited to build further services and tools that ensure artists and labels can create a living from their art.

Steven Finch, CEO, RouteNote

Here’s to the next step of our journey together, bringing music to the world.

RouteNote land on the FT 1000 list of Europe’s fastest-growing companies

Image Credit: Financial Times

RouteNote achieve a position in the top 400 of the Financial Times’ list of Europe’s fastest-growing companies.

RouteNote are proud to announce that we landed at position 373 on this year’s sixth annual FT 1000. This achievement would not have been possible without all of the amazing artists that have sent their music to us, whether you signed up yesterday or ten years ago. Thank you for helping us continue to provide excellent tools and free distribution to hundreds of thousands of independent artists and labels around the world, just like you.

The ranking, compiled with Statista, a research company, lists the European companies that achieved the highest compound annual growth rate in revenue between 2017 and 2020.

Maxine Kelly, Financial Times

Head here for the full list, numbers and methodology.

RouteNote launch the Song Analysis tool – quickly find the BPM, key and mood of any song

All RouteNote users can now find the Danceability, Acousticness, Energy, key, time signature, BPM and more, of any Spotify track.

Easily find the details of any Spotify tracks using RouteNote’s new Song Analysis tool. Curious of how the tool labels your favourite songs? Artists can find the BPM of the track they’re covering, gain inspiration with the details behind their favourite artist’s song or find suitable artists to collaborate with. Producers can find the key of the track they’re sampling or remixing. Playlist curators can find songs that perfectly fit the mood. The possibilities are endless.

Login or create a free RouteNote account, head to the Artist Services tab and click Song Analysis. Type any track title or artist in the box, then click the artwork to discover the details. The tool will list the track length, key, time signature, BPM, loudness, as well as the Danceability, Instrumentalness, Speechiness, Valence, Acousticness, Energy and Liveness. This data is pulled from Spotify’s AI and won’t always be 100% accurate, so be sure to give the track a listen yourself to be sure.

Yet to sign up to RouteNote and discover all of the powerful tool for independent artists and labels, such as free distribution to Spotify and all other major stores? Click here to register for free.

How to submit to RouteNote’s in-house playlists for free

We’ve just launched a submission form for all of our playlists. Now anyone can pitch their music to RouteNote’s curators.

Over the past year at RouteNote, we’ve launched and grown our in-house playlists, showcasing some of the incredible talent that gets uploaded every week to all major stores, streaming services and social media platforms.

Our playlists Hooked, Catalyst, Lo-Fi, Tranquilize, Pure Filth, and Overdrive cover a wide range of genres such as electronic dance music, chilled lo-fi, heavy bass, rock, metal, punk, and everything in between. These playlists have proved a great way for independent artists and labels to promote their music to a global audience. All playlists are available for streaming on Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, Anghami, TIDAL, Claro Música, Qobuz, KKBOX and now Apple Music.

Pitch your music to our playlists here

If you distribute through RouteNote (Free or Premium) and your release has been approved, you can now pitch your own music to our in-house curators. The submission form can be accessed through a Content Unlock from our friends over at Simply head here and follow the steps to follow our playlists on Spotify and submit for free. Once they’ve been saved to your Spotify library, have a listen, get a taste of the sort of music we add to our playlists and find a suitable playlist you think your latest song would fit best in.

You’ll need a few details for the submission form, including your email address, RouteNote username, UPC/ISRC, release date, primary genre, secondary genre, social media links and a little about why your song would be a great addition. Our team listen to every submission and will be in touch if your track is added. Once added, be sure to share the good news with your fans on social media.

How to set up a Pre-Save for free

Pre-Saves are a great way for fans to instantly get your new music on their library as soon as it’s available.

In a world of on-demand streaming music moves fast and so do listeners. Not only are artists competing with almost all of the music ever recorded for headphone time but the number of artists, albums, and tracks on streaming services grows every single day.

Making sure you don’t get missed by the listeners who matter (your dedicated fans) is crucial to ensuring your next new release is a success. Luckily, Pre-Saves ensure that fans are listening when your new release drops and offer you a unique promotional opportunity.

In this article we’ll outline what a Pre-Save is, how you can get one, and the best way to use it to reach the largest possible audience with your upcoming releases. So read on and give your new music the boost it needs.

What is a Pre-Save?

A Pre-Save is the streaming equivalent of a pre-order. Instead of purchasing something in advance so that the product is yours when it is launched, Pre-Saves let listeners save tracks and albums to their playlists or libraries in advance of the release day.


This means that whenever fans spot your upcoming release, they can make sure they don’t forget it. Saving or “hearting” it into their library, liked songs, and playlists means that your music is put into listener’s favourite mixes before your music even goes live!

Come release day, your music is ready to be heard by not just the creator of the playlist but anyone who subscribes. This means that playlist curators can get your upcoming releases ready to feature before they’re out.

How to create a pre-save for your upcoming release

You can create a Pre-Save for your release on Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music currently. Before you get started with a Pre-Save you’re going to need an upcoming release. You can upload your release and set a release date and even a specific release time for free with us at RouteNote.

Once your release has been sent to the eligible stores for Pre-Saves then you can set one up. We recommend using as a free and simple solution to set up Pre-Saves for your fans to get ready to receive your music.

Here’s how to set up your Pre-Save using RouteNote and

  1. Upload your music through RouteNote and select your desired stores. Be sure to set a release date 2 weeks in advance at the very least.
  2. Once your music has been approved, head to your Artist Services tab whilst logged in to RouteNote. Head to the Marketing section and select URL Requests. Fill in the form and our team will then provide your links as soon as they are available.
  3. Head to and log-in to your account. Select ‘Create New Campaign’ and select ‘Pre-Save’. Select ‘No’ in response to the question of whether your release is available on streaming services.
  4. You can then customise your Pre-Save with a description, feature image, and your very own URL ending to personalise the link for fans.
  5. Select the services that you want your Pre-Saves to be available on with the date and time your release goes live. If you do not set a time then it will go live at 00:00 on the release day. You can also choose to enable artist follow for Spotify and Deezer, which means fans will follow you when they click your Pre-Save.
  6. Give your Pre-Save a custom name so you can easily come back and track its progress or make any changes. Then once you’re happy save it and make it live.
  7. Now it’s ready, share it to your fans and get listeners ready for your hot new drop!

Using for Pre-Saves and more music promotion

Using you get unlimited Pre-Saves, even if you’re using the platform for free! This is an amazing opportunity to promote your music in the lead up to release at no extra cost – especially if you’re already using RouteNote to upload your music to music streaming services for free. offers more beyond Pre-Saves to get your music in front of audiences and connect with listeners in unique ways. As a free user you get:

For $5 a month, you can upgrade to Premium and get: offers real-time analytics on all of the campaigns you create so that you can see exactly how fans are interacting. In-depth statistics show what people are clicking on and how they’re finding your content. It’s a great way to see how fans interact with your promotions and ensure that you’re capturing audiences in the right way.

Understanding how your audience find you and the ways that they interact is vital in understanding how to move forward. A good marketing campaign comes from understanding how they reach people and what they know will work and won’t work for an artist or brand.

Upload your music to the top streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer with RouteNote for free to start your artist’s journey across the world. Reach millions of listeners across the world and find your success.

RouteNote introduce Timed Releases: Set the exact time your music goes live around the world

All RouteNote users can now control the time their music goes live, letting you get the most out of promoting your next release.

Free music distribution service RouteNote now lets all independent artists and labels set the time their music goes live around the world. Previously, artists were able to choose a sales start date, which would publish their release on stores at midnight in every country’s local timezone. Now you can also pick a time and timezone for your release to go live.

Alongside the new time and timezone options, RouteNote users will find two buttons when setting a sales start date: “Go Live at local time” and “Go Live at”. “Go Live at local time” will set the release to go live in each region once they reach the time set. “Go Live at” will set the release to go live everywhere at the time and timezone selected.

RouteNote's new Timed Releases option

This is a great tool for those wanted to synchronize their marketing strategy to one global time. A time can be added at any stage, whether you’re creating a release, editing it in user action or updating it. RouteNote have 40 timezones to choose from, that are separated by 1 hour, 30 minutes and 45 minutes. Timed Releases are currently supported by the following partners, with more coming soon:

  • Spotify
  • Deezer
  • Tidal
  • Amazon
  • TikTok
  • Nuuday
  • Netease
  • Facebook
  • Kuack
  • Tencent
  • FLO
  • Pandora

How to add a release time in RouteNote

  1. Login to RouteNote and Create New Release
  2. Fill out all of the necessary details, then head to Edit Album Details
  3. Select a sales start date, then click the new Add Time button
  4. Add any time by clicking the clock or typing in the time
  5. Choose the primary timezone for the release, then choose either Go Live at … local time or Go Live at …
  6. Once you’ve finalised all of the album details, click Save and Continue

If you’re having any issue with the new feature or anything else RouteNote, get in touch with our support team here.

With RouteNote, you can get your music on all of the top stores, streaming services and social media platforms for free.