Music, Mindset & Marketing

Covers vs. Originals: Navigating the Path to a Successful Music Career

artist development covers independent recording artists new music industry originals playing live Oct 09, 2023
Guitar Player

In the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry, recording artists face a crucial decision early in their careers: should they focus on covers or originals? 


Both have their merits, and the choice you make can significantly impact your journey toward a successful music career.


In this week’s blog, we'll explore the pros and cons of covers and originals to help you make informed decisions and chart your own path to success.


The Allure of Covers 




Instant Recognition - Covers of popular songs can grab the listener's attention right away. Familiarity can be a powerful tool for indie artists trying to make a name for themselves.


Performance Opportunities - Covering well-loved songs can open doors to gigs and events, as audiences often enjoy hearing their favorite tunes reimagined.


Building Skills - Working on covers can help you improve your singing, playing, and production skills. It's an excellent way to sharpen your musical craft.


YouTube and Social Media Visibility - Posting covers on platforms like YouTube can attract a large audience quickly, potentially leading to viral success.




Limited Creative Expression - Relying solely on covers may hinder your ability to express your unique artistic voice and style.


Licensing and Copyright Issues - Covers may require licensing and royalties to the original songwriters, which can be complex and costly.


Short-Term Gains - While covers can bring quick recognition, it's often short-lived, and listeners may not connect with you as an artist in the long run.


The Power of Originals




Artistic Freedom - Writing and performing your own music allows for complete creative control and the opportunity to develop a distinct identity as an artist.


Authenticity - Original songs allow you to share your personal stories and connect with your audience on a deeper level, fostering a loyal fan base.


Longevity - Originals have the potential for enduring success, as fans are more likely to follow an artist who consistently produces fresh, meaningful content.


Income Streams - When your originals gain traction, you can generate revenue through streaming, downloads, merchandise, and live performances.




Initial Recognition Challenges - It can be tougher to gain attention as a recording artist with original songs, as you're competing in a saturated market.


Songwriting Skills - Crafting compelling originals requires honing your songwriting skills, which can take time and practice.


Financial Investment - Recording, marketing, and promoting original music can be costly, especially when starting out in the industry. 


Balancing Act: How to Blend Covers and Originals


For many indie recording artists, the best approach may be a combination of covers and originals. Here are some tips to strike the right balance:


Start with Covers - Begin your music career with covers to build an audience and gain experience. This can be a stepping stone to introduce your original music.


Infuse Your Style - When covering songs, add your unique style and arrangements to make them stand out.


Transition to Originals - As you grow your fan base, gradually introduce your original music. Engage with your audience and share the stories behind your songs.


Diversify Your Repertoire - Continue to incorporate covers into your live performances or release occasional cover songs to maintain audience engagement.


Invest in Songwriting - Work on your songwriting skills to create compelling original content that resonates with your target audience.




In conclusion, the covers vs. originals debate isn't about choosing one over the other; it's about finding the right balance for your unique journey as an indie recording artist. Embrace the creative freedom of originals while recognizing the value of covers in building your career. Remember that success in the new music industry often comes from authenticity, persistence, and the ability to connect with your audience on a meaningful level.


If you are looking for further advice or personalised coaching to help you succeed in the music business, please contact Tryfan Music. 


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