Should Your Band Play Covers?

Posted: November 28, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Assuming that you already have enough of your own songs to last a whole set why on earth would you want to play cover songs at the expense of your own material?

Interesting question and there is no straight answer to this really.

I’ll start with one thing though as it is still fresh in my mind. For the last two nights in a row I have now been to gigs. The first one was loud and rocky and the other one was acousticy singer/songwriter type.

Number of the Beast

The Maiden

And I have to be honest..I really can’t remember a single song from a single band that I can hum along to right now! Or more importantly perhaps; the words or the message of any of the songs.

Having said that I did enjoy a few songs and distinctly remember being absorbed by them in the moment. But that moment has now passed.

It happens so often that you go home thinking you will probably hear the band again one day but as you can’t remember any songs in specific you sort of lose touch and it all fizzles out..

So what is the way around this for you as an artist?

Imagine you are at a small band gig again hearing song after song and suddenly you WAKE up….

waaaaait a minute! I recognise that song…what is it? what is it?…ah man this is familiar, but what is it? Here comes the chorus, “Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden” in a new kinda grungy style, wow cool!

You would be more likely to remember that cover and approach the band to congratulate them on their sound and specifically the version of the cover they just played.

Now I am not saying that you must do covers all the time. But on the other hand if you take a popular song, just add that one to your set…and turn it into your own style you are more likely to attract the attention of the neutral bystander than just by your own songs. My band has been playing a cover of The Terminator II theme for 2 years and it always starts a conversation if nothing else.

A lot of bands have a zero covers policy so if you have the same do re-consider it and see what song you could cover. You are after all in the entertainment business and the more shots you have of people remembering you and your band, the more you are likely to attract them to visit you again (live or your website).

For another twist; someone comes up to you and say they really liked your cover. You thank them and give them a FREE promo copy of your CD including that cover song.

Now the chances of them hearing you next morning again are greater. And who knows they might just like your own songs too 🙂

What are your experiences with covers? Do you play any that you have moulded to your own sound? Or are you definitely a zero covers band for sure? Any covers by famous bands of famous band songs you actually like?

Post your thoughts on the comments below. Ta!

  1. Crystal S says:

    Thank you for writing about this! I have been trying to convince my origional band to play some covers but whenever I suggest it I get shot down. Maybe if I get them to read this they might want to actuially do it. Any other advice for me?

  2. Atul Rana says:

    Hi Crystal, thanks for the comment. What a shame that your bandmates won’t try out a single cover. Perhaps they could try out just a tiny bit of music in one of your own songs, just a hint. For example one of our band songs had a heavy bassline that could just about be merged with the famous bassline from “Seven Nation Army”, it was cool whenever he used to drop that one in! And people remembered it for yonks. Or you could do a movie theme or something similar. Musicians don’t really like the idea of covers I know but the people love it! Good luck.

  3. ALANHB says:

    So basically you’re going to run out and get an Iron Maiden album. I don’t see that helping the band you saw.

    Instead it would be great if you actually did remember their original songs, perhaps they can combat this by not playing covers, and writing better originals.

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