To monetize a cover song on SoundCloud or YouTube (or anywhere else for that matter), you will need to obtain a license from the current copyright holder, giving you permission to monetize their original work. Since that process can be long and lengthy for most people who have never worked with copyright agreements, nor handled any licensing deals themselves, there are services out there that can help take much of the frustration out of that process so you can just focus on what you do best, making music!
One of which we would suggest would be WE ARE THE HITS, an online company which refers to themselves as the “Official Cover Song Network”. We Are The Hits was started by Larry Mills when he worked at Sony/ATV in 2011 and currently represents catalogues from Universal, Warner Music, Kobalt, Songs, Downtown, Ole and Pier; boasting a 95% coverage over ALL the hits you can imagine. Making him essentially the largest independent licensing company in the world.
“So now, if you want to upload a cover song to YouTube and not worry that it may get flagged by YouTube and ripped down, you can just signup for an account with We Are The Hits, search their database to see if the song is available, upload your video to We Are The Hits and they will post it to your YouTube channel and monetize it. Best part is, both you and the publisher get paid for the ad revenue it generates. After YouTube’s 45% cut, WATH keeps 60% (to pay the publishers/songwriters) and you keep 40%.” (Ari Herstand form Ari’s Take)
As of now, WATH only clears cover songs that are uploaded to YouTube, so unfortunately, if you want to monetize on SoundCloud you’ll still have to find a way to get a license on your own. But in the meantime, We Are The Hits has proven to be one of the best and largets resources in the Digital Age for any up and coming cover artist. To learn more and sign up for We Are The Hits today, go to: https://www.wearethehits.com/.