A cover version is a faithful reproduction of a song that was written, performed and commercially released by another artist previously. That means if you record yourself singing the latest track by Ed Sheeran, that is a cover version. Please note that if you change the lyrics or significantly change the melody or character of the song then this is not a cover but a derivative work.
To release a cover version, you need the necessary permission from the rights holder(s) - that means the writer/s of the original song or their publisher/s - and this is usually done by obtaining a mechanical license.
In most cases, the music stores featuring your cover version will take care of this (woo hoo!), but if you wish to release your cover version for sale as a download in the USA, you will need do it yourself.
Don't worry, as long as you have not changed the lyrics or made significant changes to the melody or character of the original song, this can easily be done by purchasing a mechanical license from companies such as Harry Fox Agency, Loudr, or easysonglicensing to name a few. The license should allow for a minimum of 200 downloads. It will be your responsibility to ensure that you obtain a new license before this cap is exceeded.
If you do not want to purchase a mechanical license and make your release available in the USA, simply deselect 'United States of America' in the release flow when creating your release and let the Legal Team know.
If you release a cover, please select this option when creating your release. You will need to fill out this form with your details and send through the correct documentation. After you have provided this and it has been approved, only then will your release be reviewed and sent to stores.