Record any song you like - even if it's someone else's copyright. Make and sell CDs - make lots of money!
Take a look at the mainstream chart - that's the chart where records can sell hundreds of thousands of copies, possibly even more. Go all the way to the top of the chart and pick the best-selling song.
Now, record this song in your own studio. Use the best musicians you can find, produce it well and have the mix professionally mastered.
Take the master to a CD factory and have it pressed. Don't forget you'll need eye-catching artwork too.
Market your CD effectively, get it distributed to retailers and sit back and watch big money roll in. It was a successful song for the original artist, and it should be a success for you too!
Amazingly, you do not need anyone's permission to do this!
This is possible because of the 'compulsory mechanical license'. You can find this in Section 115 of the Copyright Act 1976.
This states that if a song has previously been recorded and released, then anyone can obtain a license to re-record and release that song. All they have to do is pay the statutory rate of 9.1 cents for a duration of five minutes or less, or 1.75 cents per second (as of 2006), per copy made and distributed (but you pay on copies that remain unsold or are given away as promotional items too).
Oddly enough, the compulsory license is rarely used. Publishers will issue a direct license for the same royalty or less because it is easier to administer.
So what's holding you back? Get into your studio and record some great music, have it manufactured and get it released. Let us know when you have your first hit.
By the way, this only works in the US. The compulsory licence was abolished in the UK so you have to apply to the publisher of the song who will negotiate a rate with you.