One of the secrets on how to sell music in the new century is to mix covers with originals. The covers are already familiar to music fans who may want to hear fresh versions of the songs on YouTube or song samples on iTunes. It’s also helpful to use this approach for live shows. Here are tips for performing covers songs to help increase your fan loyalty.
Choose Popular Material
When selecting songs to cover, it’s always more advantageous to choose widely known songs than obscure album cuts. Several big selling artists of the 2010s were discovered by record labels who found them on YouTube doing popular cover songs. Go figure that music professionals would search for song titles of artists they represented and stumble upon covers of those songs performed by unsigned artists.
Look for Untapped Tribute Niches
In 2010 the Orange County Register reported that local act The Sam Morrison Band sold over 100,000 units of their album Turn the Page Again on iTunes. The tribute album was full of Bob Seger covers. Part of why this cover band was successful on how to sell music was that Seger had not allowed his original recordings to be sold on iTunes at that time, although he has since added his catalog to the online store.
Learn the Original Arrangement
There’s no rule that you have to perform a cover note for note like the original hit recording. Still, it’s a good idea to learn the original arrangement inside and out so that you can be as true to the hit as possible, since audiences usually don’t like hearing their favorite songs radically changed. Learning the arrangement means understanding chord progressions, phrasing of the notes and instrumentation that holds songs together.
Add Your Own Flavor
Don’t be afraid to add your own expression to the song. Stay close to the original, but if you cannot sing in a certain key, switch to a more comfortable key. You will sound more authentic if you perform the song in your own style than trying to be an exact copy of the original.