Of course you don’t want to be a cover band – you’re an artist! However, variety is the spice of any endeavor. Dating…don’t be boring. Cooking…there’s more than just salt and pepper. Shoes…there’s more than just sneakers that go with jeans. Music…music lovers enjoy multiple genres so why don’t some artists reach beyond their standard genre?
Seriously, if you are a blues band why don’t you play a funky Willie Nelson cover? If you are a cellist can you play a Zeppelin riff? If you are in a jazz band why can’t you play a Rolling Stones tune or three? It all boils down to comfort level. The problem is that you are only thinking of your comfort level when you make that decision not to add some ‘spice’.
Think hard about your audience. They are your customers. They download, stream, post and share playlists. What they like and do counts more than what you want to play. That doesn’t mean you should compromise yourself, but c’mon, throw the dog a bone once in a while. “How?” you may ask; Easy – do a cover song your way but cover a song the crowd will love, post and share!
A recent article in LANDR by Patrick McGuire discussed covers and the value to you as a musician. He provides “5 Key Reasons” for doing so;
- It helps your songwriting. You get to learn ‘the art of songwriting through someone else’s pen’.
- Surprisingly, cover song licensing is pretty easy. The advance of digital distribution has helped – no paperwork!
- Think Weezer and Toto…modern music and covers now go hand in hand. Plus with Apple Music and Spotify you can reach masses with a cool cover.
- Time; Writing a song can take a long time and you may have to write hundreds to get ‘one hit’. Plus you can publish more frequently and GET noticed quicker.
- Covers let you connect with fans through something familiar to them with your own recipe. What a great way to make a lasting impression!
Think about one of today’s hottest young artists, Ella Mai. She was ‘discovered’ after she posted remix after remix and cover after cover on Instagram. Now she is touring with Bruno Mars. Run D.M.C covered Aerosmith (Walk This Way), Soulive did a whole album of Beatles covers (Rubber Soulive), Cake covered Gloria Gaynor (I will Survive), The Fugees covered Roberta Flack (Killing Me Softly), Aretha Franklin covered Otis Redding (R.E.S.P.E.C.T) and Lenny Kravitz covered the Guess Who (American Woman). With a line-up like that, can covers really be bad for your music business?
Now, go for it… Covering a great song from yesteryear or last year may be just the boost your career needs!
Todd Aaronson is the founder of Plink – Play More, Make More. Plink is an application where musicians build and host their mobile press kit, find other musicians and apply to open music jobs. Plink also provides venues and promoters to post hiring opportunities for musicians and receive applications that include the artist’s or group’s press kit. More information and registration links at plinkyou.com