Are you an independent musician ready to take on the challenge of covering popular songs? Not sure where to start or what you need to know?
Look no further!
This article will guide you through the process, from understanding what cover songs are and why you should record them, to the legal steps for posting them on streaming services and paying royalties.
So whether you're looking to expand your audience, practice your skills, or simply pay homage to the classics, this article has got you covered!
Let's dive right into it!
Table of Contents:
1. What is a cover song?
Cover songs are versions of popular songs by another artist or band. While some remain faithful to the original, others may put an interesting twist on it! Cover songs bring a different perspective and interpretation to classic hits that can’t help but draw in new fans.
Famous cover versions can often make their own mark on the industry too, thanks to re-working classic tunes in a modern way. Ultimately, covers have become popular because they offer something familiar yet refreshingly new – perfect for music lovers of all ages!
2. Why should I record cover songs?
Reaching a wider audience: Cover songs can help musicians reach a new and wider audience. People who are already searching for the original song may come across a cover version and give it a listen, helping to expand the musician's fan base.
Practicing the craft: Recording cover songs allows musicians to practice their skills and hone their craft. They can work on perfecting their vocals, instrumentals, and overall sound.
Making extra cash: Cover songs can be a source of additional income for musicians. They can sell their cover versions on various platforms, or perform them live to earn some extra cash.
Putting a unique spin on a classic hit: Covering a well-known song gives musicians the opportunity to put their own spin on a classic hit. They can add their own style and creativity to the song, which can help draw attention away from their competition. Plus, fans of the originally recorded track will appreciate your efforts.
Building a relationship with a new audience: Recording cover songs can help musicians build a relationship with a new and wider audience. People who enjoy their cover versions may become fans and follow their work. The best part- since people are already searching for the original song version, they may give a cover version that appears in search results a listen, helping artists reach an entirely new audience.
Gaining stage confidence: Performing cover songs live is an excellent way for musicians to gain stage confidence and build their performance chops. It can help them overcome stage fright and prepare for larger performances.
3. How do you legally post a cover song on Spotify or other streaming services?
Posting cover songs on streaming services such as Spotify is a fantastic way to pay homage to the classics, whether it's a genre-defying remake of an old favorite or an interpretation of another musical artist's work.
However, there are certain legal steps one must take in order to post the cover song legally.
Fortunately, the process isn't too complicated—you'll need to secure a mechanical license from the original composer that grants you permission to produce and sell your own version. Luckily they can be obtained online rather easily, helping ensure that both you and the composer's rights are respected. In no time at all, you can be ready to share your stellar covers with the world!
Note: DistroKid, our recommended digital distributor for independent musicians, can do the whole process for you in the click of a button!
4. What royalties do you need to pay when covering a song?
If you are the kind of person who dreams of becoming a singing superstar, be prepared to pay up when you’re ready to take your renditions public. Royalties need to be paid for any replicated or recorded songs so that songwriter and composers get the royalties they deserve for their hard work.
To avoid copyright infringement, always make sure that proper royalty payments have been made for each song you cover: different rates apply for streaming and downloading services.
Prices can range from pennies to hundreds of dollars depending on the type and length of the work being covered; however, most standard indie labels have respectable policies in place to make sure creativity is given its due respect!
Note: Again, DistroKid can make this process super easy, with only $1 a month fee to secure a mechanical license and handle royalty payouts!
5. How can you find the right cover song for your voice and style?
Finding the right cover song for your voice and style can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, you can create something unforgettable.
Step 1: Narrow down your genre
First, start by identifying your preferred genre of music. If you're into pop music, look at classic hits or newer releases, and pick songs that fit your vocal range. You can also tweak lyrics to showcase your personality and make the song unique to you.
Step 2: Be true to yourself
When selecting a song, it's important to choose something that captures your energy, emotion, and genuine style. This way, your performance will stand out and show your individuality.
Step 3: Analyze and personalize
Listen carefully to the original song and break down each component. Get familiar with the instrumentation and then consider how you want to interpret it in your own unique style. Whether it's adding different instruments or singing harmonies, look for ways to make the song your own while maintaining the vibe of the original recording.
6. Where can you find more information about cover songs?
If you're still curious about cover songs, the internet is your oyster! One can find information about cover songs through various resources such as music industry websites, legal databases, public forums, copyright organizations, and musical performance rights societies like BMI and ASCAP. Plus, it is advisable to consult a professional lawyer for any legal questions.
The Full Outline for Recording a Cover Song
Before we part ways, let's summarize this blog post with the ten keys you need when covering a song.
1. Do Your Research
Before you start recording or performing a cover song, it’s important to do your research. Make sure you are familiar with the original artist and song. Listen to the song multiple times and take note of the arrangement, instrumentation, and vocal melodies. You should also research the copyright laws in your country to ensure that you are not infringing on any copyrights.
2. Choose the Right Song
Not all songs are suitable for covers. When choosing a song to cover, make sure it is a song that you connect with and that you feel you can put your own spin on. The song should also be popular enough that people will recognize it but not so popular that it has been covered to death.
3. Get Permission from the Copyright Holder
If you want to release your cover song commercially, you will need to get permission from the copyright holder of the previously recorded song. This is usually the music publisher or the record label that owns the rights to the song. You can usually find contact information for the copyright holder on the internet or by contacting your local music industry association.
4. Record a Demo
Once you have chosen a song and obtained permission from the copyright holder, it’s time to start recording. Begin by recording a demo of the song so that you can get an idea of how it will sound. Use simple instrumentation and vocals so that you can focus on nailing the arrangement and performance.
5. Choose Your Instrumentation Carefully
When choosing your instrumentation, make sure to choose instruments that will complement the vocal melody and add something new to the original arrangement. Avoid using too many instruments or adding unnecessary parts just for the sake of it. Honestly, it may sound cliché, but less is often more when it comes to covers.
6. Stay True to the Original Melody
While it’s important to put your own spin on a cover song, you should still stay true to the original melody. The melody is what people will remember most about the song, so make sure yours is catchy and easy to sing along to. If you change the melody too much, people may not even recognize it as a cover.
7. Add Your Own Personal Touch
Once you have recorded a demo of the song, it’s time to start adding your own personal touch. This could be anything from changing up the arrangement slightly to adding new lyrics or additional instrumental parts. Be creative and experiment with different ideas until you find something that works well. Remember, this is your cover so make it your own!
8. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse!
Before performing your cover live, make sure to rehearse it multiple times. This will help ensure that everything runs smoothly on stage and that everyone knows their part. If possible, try rehearsing with a live band so that you can get used to playing with other musicians.
9. Perform Live!
Now comes the fun part – performing your cover live! If this is your first time performing a cover song, there may be some nerves but try to relax and enjoy yourself. Remember, people are there because they want to hear YOU perform!
10. Promote Your Cover
Once you have recorded and performed your cover, don’t forget to promote it! Post about it on social media, send it out to music blogs, and tell all your friends and family about it. The more people who hear your cover, the better!
Consequences of Posting a Cover Song Without a License
Releasing a cover song without a proper music license can have serious consequences. Legal action and hefty fines may result, and an artist's reputation in the industry can be damaged.
To avoid these issues, musicians must obtain proper licensing for cover songs they release online. Failing to do so could harm their professional image and limit future career opportunities, so don't do this!!
In conclusion, cover songs offer musicians a chance to expand their audience, practice their craft, earn some extra income, and put their unique spin on a classic hit.
Importantly, however, there are certain legal steps to follow when posting cover songs on streaming services like Spotify, such as obtaining a mechanical license and making proper royalty payments.
To find the right cover song for your voice and style, you can narrow down your genre, be true to yourself, analyze and personalize the original song, and look for inspiration from online forums and music blogs.
With these steps in mind, you can turn your cover song dream into a reality.