Conditions of creation and use of music versions, adaptations, remixes and cover versions of the tracs by other authors

In this article we would like to address an issue that is of interest and importance to all authors, composers and performers. In order to give full professional answer we have contacted our ExpertMusic lawyer.


The lawyer clarified some legal aspects of music versions, adaptations, remixes and cover versions, and explained what Authors should do to prevent infringement of law while creating musical compositions.

To begin with, let us consider the main terms in order to gain insight into this problem.

Music adaptations imply changes in the original note pattern of music pursuing some aims, e.g. to adjust the music for performing by amateurs who are not highly skilled, to use it for educational purposes, to play it with the use of other musical instruments etc.

In the past, polyphonic adaptations of chorus plainchants were common in the Western Europe, serving as a basis for the proliferation of polyphonic music in the 16-th century. In the 19 and 20-th centuries adaptations of folk tunes, also known as harmonizing, were popular. Many famous composers made adaptations of folk tunes.

Music version is an art of adaptation of a musical composition and reproducing it in the new quality different from the original. Music versions presuppose a number of ways to develop the original, e.g. modifications in the harmony, the use of transposition and modulation, adding new material, introduction, conclusion etc.

One of the types of music versions is setting and transposition of music from one way of performance to another (e.g. setting the violin or orchestral part for the voice or piano and vice versa). A version can also be a simplified variant of the original performed with the same instrument.

Remix is a version of a musical composition recorded on its basis, as a rule in a more modern setting. Sometimes remixes are made by "mixing" some parts of the original musical composition, using special sounds and effects, changing the tempo, key etc. The most common types are remix and megamix (a compilation of several tracks).

Cover version is an author's musical composition (in most cases popular) performed by other musician or band. A cover version may contain elements of the original track accompanied by elements of a new music setting.
A collection of cover versions is called a tribute, and a musician or band performing cover versions are referred to as a cover performer and a cover band respectively.

If a cover band specializes in performing the tracs of one certain performer(s), they are referred to as a tribute band.

A cover version is one of the types of remake (any new version of a musical composition).

All the aforesaid allows to conclude that a person who makes a music version, music adaptation, remix, or a cover version of already existing track, creates a new track based on another, already existing one. It goes without saying that in order to create a new version of already existing track the author(s) should make their creative contribution. A person who has created a version of a track becomes the holder of a copyright for this version. But it bacomes legal and valid only with the consent of the author (or copyright holder) of the original track.

In accordance with current legislation only the author (copyright holder) has an exclusive right for the use of a musical composition. The use of a musical composition implies both creating a version (adaptation, remix, cover version), and performing it in public. There are some exceptions, for example, by law, one may perform a musical composition by another author only at home before relatives and friends. This condition is valid until the expiry of protection by copyright or receiving the right to use the musical composition with the consent of the author (copyright holder).

It is believed that in order not to violate a copyright one should just name the musical composition and its original author before the performance, and it will suffice. This is not true. As it has already been mentioned, any use of a musical composition is possible only with the consent of the author (copyright holder) or after the expiry of copyright protection.

Imagine having to create a version of a musical composition and/or perform a cover version of a track by other authors with your band.

In this case you will need:

– to make a list of musical compositions you are planning to remake;

– to find out about the Author's legal representatives;

– to discuss all the conditions of making a version (adaptation, remix) and/or a cover version with the legal representative of the Author (copyright holder) and to sign a License Agreement.

A failure to find and contact the author (copyright holder) of a musical composition does not entitle a person to use it without an Agreement.

Besides, it is possible to use author's musical compositions with the involvement of a Creative Commons License, that serves to simplify the process of receiving consent to use tracs around the world on certain conditions (depending on the licenser).

Having signed the License Agreement you may start remaking musical compositions, creating and performing cover versions in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement.

We hope that our article is helpful. If you have additional questions feel free to write comments or an inquiry to our Support Service via e-mail:

ExpertMusic Team

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