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What's So Good About Performing Cover Songs?

Updated on June 6, 2017
Craypoe profile image

Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.

Image from Punksters.net
Image from Punksters.net

I have been in a number of bands throughout the years. I have played original tunes as well as cover tunes. I have also seen a number of bands that played only originals as well. But there are a lot of pluses for a band that performs cover songs.

First of all, try getting gigs if you do only original material. Unless you are already a big name act, you won't be getting many. When you are first starting out, people just mainly want to hear something they are familiar with. That's not to say that nobody appreciates original material but the main preference for most when they go out to hear a local band live is to hear something they are familiar with.

Aside from the performance aspect of it, learning cover material is a great way of learning various techniques. You have to learn from somewhere and nobody really learns how to play an instrument without learning something that has been created by someone else. It's like the old saying "You have to start somewhere."

One thing I think is really great though is how you can sort of pay tribute to the bands of the past that you admire most. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. so when you do a cover of some other band's music, it is a form of flattery. It is a way of showing your appreciation for their work.

Even the big name bands will do a remake of someone else's music. What I like about that is the fact that it is a way for the music from certain bands to go on forever. Sometimes a band will do a remake of another band's music and it will bring attention to the older band and may introduce that old band to a new generation of listeners. It's like a form of immortality.

As a musician, I have learned a lot over the years from performing cover songs. It has allowed me to learn new techniques on the various instruments that I play and from analyzing their music, it gave me ideas for composing my own music.

i have seen some lazy musicians throughout the years that only performed their own music. A lot of them were not the best musicians in the world, to put it kindly. One reason is that they lacked the discipline to learn someone else's music. Quite often, it was simply too difficult for them and they really didn't like to push themselves to try to play the challenging music.. They had creativity though. So with their creativity, they wrote their own songs. Much of what they created was very simple though.

If a musician is a very creative one and has acquired a lot of technical skills,he could achieve quite a lot musically. He could take all of those advanced techniques and apply them to his own songs.

When I first started out, I played more original songs than cover songs. I got involved in bands that placed more emphasis on originals than covers. The problem was that most club owners wanted cover bands at their establishment. So things were tough as far as getting gigs was concerned.

After being with the less successful bands, I eventually got together with a keyboard player. I was a guitarist and vocalist and the keyboard player sang as well. So we had and acoustic guitar with a keyboard using strings and piano sounds simultaneously, giving it an orchestral sort of sound. Then with the two of us singing harmony vocals, we had a very full sound for just a music duo.

We learned so many cover songs it was ridiculous. We had a song list of about 100 songs and only about a dozen of them were originals. We got a lot of gigs and were playing out quite regularly. We even made some money. Imagine that.

Eventually, I went solo. I played acoustic guitar and sang. Again, I did mostly cover material. I got a lot of gigs. But as a solo performer, I made a lot more money. The down side is that I had to do everything. I had to handle all of the bookings as well as setting up all the equipment, do all of the promotion and so on. I was the only person up on stage so if any mistake was made, I couldn't blame it on anyone else.

I always like to try a lot of the more challenging things though. I would often do an acoustic version of a song that was originally done on an electric guitar. I would also incorporate a lot of difficult techniques to the cover songs that weren't in the original versions. I would basically do a new take on many of the songs. I would make it so they were still as recognizable as the original but always tried to put my own spin on them to kind of make them my own. That was also a challenge I often enjoyed.

I have heard a lot of cover bands do songs exactly like the original. They sounded pretty close to the original band's recording. I think that's great and it has its place, especially if they are a tribute band. That's obviously when it is most important to sound as much like the original band as possible. But I personally enjoy doing my own take on them. I figure that if someone wants to hear the CD, they can do that at home. They don't need to go out and hear me sound like it. But that' a matter of my own personal preference for performing cover songs. That's what keeps it interesting for me. And it's like my own little tribute to the bands I admire most.

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