Cover songs seem to be an underutilized marketing asset for developing artists. They have instant familiarity. If you take a song and flip it in an entirely new direction aligned with an artist’s sonic vision, it can be a powerful mechanism for creating awareness.
Back in 2016, I remember seeing Chris Stapleton at Coachella. My ex-girlfriend had no idea who he was… But when he and “Morgane busted into their You Are My Sunshine” cover, she went crazy… She had already come across the song, and in this moment of recognizing it live, she became a fan of Chris.
Whether it’s a current hit or a cult classic, our ears always have room to hear a different take of a song we already know.
Covers have made careers for decades… They are a tried and true method for exposure to new audiences. From Justin Bieber or Shawn Mendes building their fanbases singing covers on YouTube and musical.ly respectively to Limp Bizkit getting their last major hit with a cover of the Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes”.
In fact, back in 2014 as Outkast announced their headline festival run, the first song ZHU ever launched was a mashup of covers of the group’s greatest hits.
Cover playlists do extremely well on streaming services… Since there are significantly less covers being submitted to originals, the songs don’t appear to be switched out as frequently.
While covers won’t always become hits, sometimes they do, as was the case for some of the most credible artists in the world, including Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Jack White. Did you know Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” was actually a cover?
In the instagram-era, many artists believe their authenticity is defined by their own songwriting and therefore may not be interested in recording covers.
If this is your artist’s perspective, no worries… just share this simple stat with them: Arguably the most covered group of all time, the Beatles, actually covered others 73 times… 24 times during their prime years (1963-65).