Every artist I talk to always wants to be original, but that doesn’t mean you can not do cover songs. Many artists have launched amazing careers from performing cover songs. Over a series of blog posts I plan to take you through the process of doing a cover song from start to finish. From picking a song all the way to recording and release on iTunes and Spotify. In this post I’ll talk why you should even do cover songs to being with.
So why do cover songs? There are few reasons and they can be broken down into two categories.
Education and Marketing.
Let us start with the education side of things. Learning other people’s songs is how you build the foundations for your talent. If you play piano, you will play the works of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, and countless others in your quest to improve your technique on the instrument. The more works you learn the better you get. This is a simple idea but often overlooked by many of the autotune artists that begin their music careers today. Everyone wants to be famous and talented instantly, and it doesn’t work that way. You have to put time in. When you learn other people’s work you not only are building your physical technique as a singer or instrumentalist you are also adding to your musical vocabulary. You are learning about form, the structure of how a song works. You are learning about the stylistic differences in a particular genre or time period. An 80’s song doesn’t sound like a 90s song. Why? You are learning about other elements of music like phrasing and melodic structure. And if some day you plan to write your own songs there is no better way to start then to learn covers. John Lennon and Paul McCartney played did countless covers and the went on to become two of the most famous songwriters in the history of music.
The 2nd important reason to do cover songs is that it is a great way to market yourself and find your personal sound. This is now true more than ever as youtube’s popularity continues to rise. Performing a cover song either on youtube or a social media app like musical.ly or even instagram gives people the opportunity to find you. Someone is much more likely to come across you singing a cover song than they are with you singing an original. It is also easier for people to identify with you through a song that they are familiar with. They might not know you, but they know the song, and they like the song so they’ll give you a chance. Your job is to make the cover entertaining and grab their attention until you have made them a fan. Your creative style and individual sound is also your chance to be creative. Being creative is a very important and with a cover song you have the chance to brand your style to any song. You could be the quirky girl that sings covers with an acoustic guitar or ukelele. You group that does covers in the style of 50s swing or jazz. You could even be a 50 person senior citizen choir singing rap tunes. Use your style as a branding technique on every song you do and your fans will find you.
Staytuned for part 2, when we talk about picking a song to cover.
Examples of great cover artists on youtube:
Post Modern Juke Box
Kina Grannis – has over a million subscribers and still does covers.
Lucky Chops – a brass band in NY (no vocals)
One Voice Childrens Choir
The Cast Of Glee – An entire TV show full of covers.