CMRRA issues mechanical licences through two basic plans: “Pay-As-You-Press/Import, or pursuant to the terms of CMRRA’s standard Mechanical Licensing Agreement (MLA).
If you are manufacturing or importing physical music products in small quantities or releasing sound recordings on a one-shot or limited basis, “pay-as-you-press” licensing is the appropriate method for you. This applies to audio-only sound recordings, such as CDs, cassettes and vinyl recordings. The royalty rate for the reproduction of musical works embodied in any other merchandise, such as toys, games, or any other special product is subject to individual negotiation and is not covered by our standard “pay-as-you-press” licence.
► The Pay-As-You-Press/Import Licence Application Process
Applying for a “Pay-As-You-Press/Import” licence is a multi-step process. Here are the items you will need to submit:
- Confirmation of Units Pressed (pressing order, invoice, or letter from the presser confirming the total number of units to be manufactured)
- Completed Pressing Information Waiver
- Completed Application for Mechanical Licences Form (Excel version, PDF version, or Print version)
- Completed CMRRA Royalty Calculation Sheet – ONLY REQUIRED IF USING THE PDF OR PRINT VERSION
- Royalty Payment (online credit card payment, cheque, money order, or in-person credit/debit transaction at our office)
Each of these items is outlined in detail below.
STEP 1: Getting Started
Please use our Guide to Completing CMRRA's Application for Mechanical Licences Form to aid you through the application process. Before you begin, please ensure that you have considered the following information, to avoid delays in receiving your licence(s).
Pressing Confirmation and Pressing Information Waiver
You must provide us with a confirmation from your presser of the number of copies to be manufactured. This can take the form of a copy of your pressing order, the presser’s invoice or a written confirmation from the presser of the number of copies to be manufactured. CMRRA will not accept quotes for the purposes of this confirmation.
For imports, you will need to provide us with the customs manifest or other documentation confirming the number of copies to be imported.
You must complete, sign and date the enclosed Pressing Information Waiver. While it is your responsibility as the licence applicant to provide us with the pressing documentation outlined above, we have found that this documentation is not always provided to us in a timely fashion. As such, it is necessary for CMRRA to be given the authorization to obtain this information directly from your presser to ensure prompt processing of your licences and of our publisher principals’ royalties.
New Adaptations /Translations
If you intend to create an adaptation or translation of an original work, you need to obtain authorization. While CMRRA can grant mechanical licences for the reproduction of musical works controlled by its publishers, the words and the melody used for your recording must correspond to those of the original musical work. In other words, a licence can only be granted for a new arrangement of a work if no changes are brought to the fundamental structure, chords and/or lyrics of the composition.
With the exception of works in the public domain, any fundamental modifications made to a musical work must first be approved in writing by its publisher(s), and possibly its author(s), before CMRRA can grant a licence. If a composition is owned by more than one publisher, all publishers must give their authorization before the adaptation can be recorded. Since any publisher can refuse to authorize an adaptation or translation, we recommend that you refrain from recording your version of the work before the appropriate rights are secured.
The responsibility to secure these rights is that of the adaptor, translator or eventual recipient of the licence. To obtain these rights, you must contact the concerned publisher(s) directly. Generally, a publisher will require the following information to approve an adaption/translation of its work:
- The original title of the work used along with the name of its authors/composers;
- The new title given to the adaptation along with the names of the adaptors/translators;
- The original lyrics of the work being arranged;
- The new or translated lyrics of the adaptation;
- If the adaptation is in a language other than English, a literal English translation of the lyrics
Once you have received the required publisher approvals, CMRRA will issue the appropriate mechanical licences for our represented publishers. Important: a copy of the signed agreement between you and the concerned publisher(s) will need to be included with your licence application.
Existing Adaptations /Translations
If you wish to use an existing adaptation or translation of a musical work, you must include on the application form both the title of the original work and the adapted work. As well, you must indicate the authors and composers of the original work, along with the names of the adaptors and/or translators. If the adaptation is already registered as authorized in our database, you will be granted a licence. However, it may happen that the adaptation/translation you wish to use has never been properly authorized by the concerned publisher(s). If this is the case, and you still wish to reproduce the arrangement, you will have to follow the steps outlined above to seek the necessary authorization.
STEP 2: Application for Mechanical Licences Form
You must complete an Application for Mechanical Licences Form which outlines the details of each work embodied on your product. In addition to the information below, please refer to the to the Guide to Completing CMRRA's Application for Mechanical Licences Form to ensure that you understand what is required to complete the form properly.
The Application for Mechanical Licences Form is available in two formats:
1) Microsoft Excel Format – This is the preferred format, which will auto-calculate for you the total amount of royalties payable, plus any applicable taxes, and CMRRA’s handling fee. Note: the downloadable Excel Package contains all of the forms required to complete your application, i.e. the Application for Mechanical Licences (Excel version), the Mechanical Licensing Presser Waiver Form, and the Guide to Completing CMRRA’s Application for Mechanical Licences Form.
- For tips on how to open a .zip folder, follow this link.
- To use the Application for Mechanical Licences form (excel version), you must enable macros.
- For optimal viewing, your screen zoom level should be at 80% or greater.
- If you have more tracks than will fit on page 1 of the form, additional space is provided on page 2. The sub-total from the second page will be reflected in the first page Total Royalties. If your product contains more tracks than will fit on both pages provided, please contact us.
2) PDF Format– If you are unable to use the Excel version, you have two options:
- Electronic/"Fillable" PDF version: Download and complete the form electronically (if you have Adobe Acrobat). Additional pages are provided to support additional tracks; but if your product contains more than 16 tracks, please contact us directly for further instructions or use the print version of the form (below). Note: The electronic version contains worksheets for medleys, adaptations and/or translations. If you choose this option, you will also need to complete a separate Royalty Calculation Sheet to calculate the amount payable for your application.
- Print version: Download and complete this hard copy version of the form. If you choose this option, you will also need to complete a separate Royalty Calculation Sheet to calculate the amount payable for your application. Completed documents can be scanned and submitted to us via email or submitted in hard copy via mail (see Step 4 below for mailing address).
Note: If you are applying for more than one product (album), each product must have its own completed application form and Royalty Calculation Sheet (PDF only). Please do not merge multiple products on one form/calculation sheet.
The total amount payable is comprised of (i) the royalty fees, (ii) CMRRA’s handling fee and (iii) the payment of all applicable taxes. See below for further details on how these amounts are calculated:
(i) Royalty Fees: Fees are calculated for each work by multiplying a) the per work rate by b) the total number of units, then by c) CMRRA’s percentage representation for the work.
- a)Per work rate: The standard mechanical royalty rate is $0.083 per work, per copy, where the running time of the recording is five minutes or less, plus $0.0166 per copy for each additional minute or partial minute of running time. Note: there are certain exceptions where non-standard rates apply:
- Works published by Abkco Publishing Co. are subject to a royalty rate of $0.13 per work, per copy, where the running time of the recording is five minutes or less, plus $0.026 per copy for each additional minute or partial minute of running time.
- The work “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin is subject to a royalty rate of $0.0952 per copy, where the running time of the recording is five minutes or less, plus $0.01904 per copy for each additional minute or partial minute of running time.
- A select number of publishers represented by CMRRA reserve the right to separately approve each application. Their royalty rate may be higher than the current standard rate, in which case we will advise you of the additional amount to be paid. If a publisher refuses to authorize a licence, we will advise you and refund the amount in question.
b)Number of units to be manufactured or imported: Note that the minimum number of copies for which a mechanical licence will be issued is 500, whether or not you are pressing or importing a smaller number of copies.
c )CMRRA Percentage: This is the % of the work represented by CMRRA. In some cases, CMRRA may only represent a portion of the work, and you will need to obtain a licence for the remaining portion directly from another rightsholder. Example calculation for a recording of less than 5:00 duration at the standard royalty rate:
(ii) Handling Fee: Your application is subject to a non-refundable handling fee of 8% of the royalties payable, or $6.00, whichever is greater.
(iii) Applicable Taxes: If you are a Canadian resident, your payment must also include the applicable taxes (HST for provinces where it is applicable, otherwise GST only for provinces with no HST).
STEP 3: Royalty Payment
You must provide us with your royalty payment as calculated in Step 2 above. Payment options include: online credit card payment, certified cheque, money order, in-person at our office (credit/debit machine available for in-person transactions only) or non-certified personal cheque. If you provide a non-certified personal cheque, your licence application will not be processed until your cheque has cleared. Cash payments are not accepted.
Refund Policy: If you make an application and submit payment for a work that is in the public domain or not represented by CMRRA, the royalty portion of your payment for this work/share will be refunded immediately upon confirmation by CMRRA. Note that Handling Fees are not subject to refunds.
Important: Once a licence has been issued by CMRRA, we are unable to refund or credit any royalties for the work in question in the event you may decide not to use it. It is therefore critically important that you be certain of the work you wish to use before the licence is issued by CMRRA. If a licence has not been issued, and you have decided to not use the work in question, CMRRA will refund the royalty portion of your payment for this work, but not the associated Handling Fee.
STEP 4: Application Submission
Email submission: Send all the required items in one email package, to CMRRA's Pay as You Press Department — payp[at]cmrra[dot]ca. Submitting your application via email will expedite processing time.
- Completed Application for Mechanical Licences Form (Excel version, PDF version, or Print version)
- A completed CMRRA Royalty Calculation Sheet, identifying all compositions and amounts payable (if using the print or PDF forms)
- A copy of either your pressing order, invoice, or letter from the presser confirming the total number of units to be manufactured.
- A completed copy of the Pressing Information Waiver
- Royalty Payment: Payments may be made via online credit card payment, certified cheque, money order or non-certified personal cheque sent by regular mail to the address noted below, or in-person at our office.
Regular mail submission: Include all documents as listed above, and mail your application to:
Attention: Pay-As-You-Press Department
56 Wellesley Street West, Suite 320
PROCESSING TIME: It is important to note that all of the items listed above must be supplied in order for CMRRA to process your application. Where the ownership of the work you have applied for has already been confirmed and registered in our database, you can expect to receive your licences typically within three weeks, although processing times may take as long as six weeks during peak periods. You will receive an email confirmation once your licences have been issued and provided with instructions on how to retrieve the details from our CMRRA Direct online portal. Should you encounter any errors or discrepancies, please bring these to our attention immediately.
Number of units to be manufactured or imported: Note that the minimum number of copies for which a mechanical licence will be issued is 500, whether or not you are pressing or importing a smaller number of copies.
► Licensing additional copies
The licences issued to you will be limited to the number of copies you have specified in your application and for which you have paid. If you wish to manufacture or import additional copies of your product beyond the number set out on the licence, you must re-apply for a licence for those additional copies by submitting a new application and following steps 1-4 of the Pay-As-You-Press/Import Licence Application Process.
► Work and publisher research tools
We invite you to research our Repertoire of over 3 million works, in order to identify the ownership information for those that you may be seeking to license. It may be the case that CMRRA does not represent all or some portion of a work’s ownership, and by identifying this information up front you will avoid submitting unnecessary licence applications and payment.
While we do our best to make sure that the work and publisher information appearing on our website is accurate and up-to-date, ownership information can change hands on a periodic basis, which may cause works to move in and out of our repertoire within a short period of time. If a change in our representation occurs after you’ve done your research and submitted your licence application, we’ll let you know.
It is also possible that the works you are looking for do not appear in our database. This does not mean that those musical works are not represented by CMRRA. Rather, in those cases, we may need to add the work to our database and conduct research to confirm the identity of the rightsholders in question. The process of researching and confirming work ownership information may take a few days to many months. It’s important to note that CMRRA is unable to issue a licence for a work, or part thereof, until we have confirmed the identity of the copyright owner(s) and their representation by CMRRA.
► Unlocatable copyright owner
It may happen from time to time that a copyright owner cannot be identified or located. If this is the case with the musical work you wish to use, CMRRA will refund the royalties to you after we have exhausted all possible avenues of research. At that point, you may then apply to the Copyright Board of Canada for an Unlocatable Owner’s licence pursuant to Section 77 of the Copyright Act.
► What is a “pay-as-you-press/import” licence?
A "Pay-As-You-Press/Import" licence is a type of mechanical licence issued by CMRRA for licensees who only occasionally manufacture or import products in Canada or who do so in small quantities. Royalties for this type of licence must be paid in advance, along with the submission of the licence application, and is limited to the number of units manufactured/imported and paid for.
► Can I pay royalties quarterly based on my sales?
Record labels who are licensed under CMRRA’s Mechanical Licensing Agreement (MLA) can report royalties to CMRRA on a quarterly basis as products are sold. However, parties to an MLA are required to keep track of, and process, any change in the ownership of the musical works they have used, in order to produce accurate royalty statements each quarter. This capability, plus additional requirements, are assessed on a case-by-case basis when making a determination if a label qualifies for an MLA.
► How do I extract the Application for Mechanical Licences (Excel version) from the .Zip folder?
The files in a .zip folder are compressed. Once you've downloaded the folder, right click and select "Extract All" to extract the files to a new folder where they can then be opened. Alternatively, you can double click on the folder, "copy all" files and paste or move them to them to a new folder where they can be opened., i.e. files will not work properly if opened from within a .zip folder.