I’d venture to say that almost all bands start by playing cover songs. After all, what better way to get your chops together than by emulating something already tried and true - i.e. a hit song. The problem comes when a band or artist begins to get popular from playing cover songs, yet has aspirations of one day playing their own music. Unless you’re extremely clever right out of the box, chances are that your self-composed material doesn’t get the crowds going the way the cover material does. This means that as soon as you begin to play one of your own, that hot enthusiastic crowd suddenly goes ice cold, making you feel like your song just isn’t cutting it.
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Entries in cover song (2)
It’s no secret Justin Bieber’s ascension to pop superstardom started with a cover song (a version of Ne-Yo’s “So Sick”). Could he have achieved an “underdog to celebrity” rise without one? Maybe, but Bieber performed a new spin on a decades-old formula readily available to any recording artist looking to acquire new fans and make additional money from their recordings.
Cover songs (a.k.a. “remakes”) provide an easy path to building audiences. Releasing one is similar to getting introduced to a new person by way of mutual friend (the song) rather than through a chance encounter (an original tune found on a Bandcamp / MySpace page). A positive introduction is more likely when there is immediate common ground.
Cover songs also provide a unique way of tapping into alternate revenue streams for only modest expense (i.e. money spent securing the required mechanical license and paying royalties via Limelight, time spent learning the song, etc.). So why is this an effective way of promoting your music? Let’s explore…
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(Updated May 3)