i wanted to include a couple covers of worship songs on my solo CD, so i had to obtain what's called a mechanical license. i started by going to ccli.com - a site primarily intended to pay christian songwriters for worship songs used in churches (i.e. to gouge another buck out of the barely financially thriving body of Christ to pay people for songs they "own" that were inspired by God anyway ...more from that soapbox later).
ccli has a song lookup that shows the author, copyright year, and publishing company for most every christian song out there. once i found out those details, i did internet searches for contact info of the publishing companies. different publishing companies have different hoops to jump through. in fact, the reason i picked the two covers on my album was mostly because they were from the same publishing company, integrity/hosanna, who make it quite easy to get mechanical licenses. see their online license form right here.
once i filled the form, they sent me all the paperwork to complete. i paid 8.5 cents per song, per copy made, which is a standard set by the U.S. government in this table. so my cost for the mechanical license to include two cover songs on my album went like this:
8.5 cents x 1000 copies made x 2 songs = $170 in royalties.
so there you have it. these are costs paid up front - whether all the CDs are sold or not.