So how do you go about making sure that all master use and publishing rights are secured? Would this be necessary if you make up your own words to a popular song, but use the same tune? (No music, just singing your own lyrics.)
I suggest contacting one of the agencies below. I'm sure they can give you information on your question.
Hope this helps.
Musical Works: Performance Rights
Performance rights are all uses associated with public performance of copyrighted music, everything from concert performances to playing an artist's music on overhead speakers in a retail space. Together, these three licensing agencies encompass the vast majority of published American music.
•ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers) - Membership association of composers, songwriters, lyricists and musical publishers.
•BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) - Performance works and media licensing center
•SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers) - One of the fastest growing performance rights organizations, with offices in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, London and Atlanta.
Yes those are all good suggestions. In general it may be a decent amount of work for you to get rights to use these songs. If you make up your own words to a popular song that is still under copyright, you still would have to get rights. If the song is not under copyright anymore, you could add your own words. We aren't able to give specific legal advice on how to do this unfortunately, since that is outside the scope here.