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What’s the Deal with Harry Fox?

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

Question: I’m still not quite sure what Harry Fox does. I think he used to be a monopoly. Does he have competition these days? If so, please give us some names and maybe also what kind of prices/services we can expect.

#AskAmanda from Jim Swan in Kizugawa, Kyoto, Japan

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Thanks for your question, Jim. Here’s a little Fact File on Harry Fox:

Name: Harry Fox Agency

Birthday: Founded in 1927 by the National Music Publishers Association

Favorite Color: Logo is blue

Owned by: SESAC / The Blackstone Group

Function: To issue mechanical licenses for compositions recorded and released in the United States, and soon Internationally.

Common uses: Record companies and recording artists use HFA’s online database to locate composition copyright owners, and to secure mechanical licensing for album and single audio recording releases in the United States, and soon abroad.

Works with: Most major publishers including Sony/ATV, ole, Curb Music, and approved independent publishers who earn a minimum threshold royalty income annually. HFA is a way for publishers to outsource their mechanical licensing duties.


Q: Is HFA the only place to get a mechanical license?

A: No. There are many independent music administrators such as Bluewater Music that issue their own domestic mechanical licenses.

Q: I am an independent songwriter / publisher. Do I have to join HFA?

A: No. There is no requirement to join HFA as an independent songwriter / publisher. However, you must have a system for mechanical licensing in place in house or through an administrator in order to make sure you’re collecting all your money.

Q: How hard is it to handle my own mechanical licensing in house?

A: When you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to at least understand how mechanical licensing works so that you have a grasp on the process. It’s a little more involved than can be explained here, but doesn’t require a master’s degree either, just a little specific knowledge and practice.

Want to learn?

Apply to join the Songpreneurs online or get our workbook: Getting Started the Right Way in the New Millennium of Music Business to learn more about mechanicals and licensing in general. >>

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