Covers or Originals?

Tom Leu, of the The Musicians Corner, gives his opinion regarding “covers or originals.�?

Should your band play covers of other artist’s music or should you write and play your own original music? Covers, or “headliners�? as one enlightened gentleman in Edgerton, WI told us recently, are needed every two or three songs. Depending on your perspective, you may or may not agree with that statement.

If you’re writing predominately original music, you need to book shows in those kinds of clubs. It’s amazing how many bands miss this point sometimes. Determine what percentage of your shows will be dedicated to original vs. cover material, do your research, and then plan out your “tour.�?

Cover material: the classic songs we sing along to in the shower, or air-drum on the steering wheels of our cars. The big hits of yesterday and today. Cover bands and artists sometimes get a bad rap for only performing other people’s music. The notion is that these musicians are somehow less skilled musically than an original band. This is simply untrue.

Original material: If you’re an artist who has something interesting to say, and can say it in an interesting way (usually in 5 minutes or less), then you’re probably writing and recording your own music. Original music, in certain regions, is a double-edged sword.

The Bottom Line: Whether your band or group plays mostly original or cover material depends on your long-term goals. Are your goals to get a major or independent record deal? Or are you looking to make a living playing music right now? Whatever the goal, understand the environment you’re working in and adjust your marketing and business plan accordingly. Fit your product to an existing market, not the other way around.