I’ve spent a lot of cyber inches defending the practice of singing ‘other people’s songs’ but today I’m going to be the Devil’s Advocate. Here's why you should not sing covers if you want to be an original music artist:
1. Branding Badly – The pilgrimage from disco queen territory to cool indie princess land is a long and arduous one. If you want to make a decent living from singing covers, chances are you will be singing pop and dance hits from the last three decades. Once you establish a reputation – among punters and industry – as this type of performer, it’s hard work shaking that image and establishing a new one at the other end of the spectrum of cool.
2. Sullying your Style – Becoming an original artist is all about finding and honing what is individual about you. On the other hand, the best cover and session singers can sing just about anything and do it convincingly. Cover singers spend so much time in Lady Gaga’s songwriting shoes that it can drag their skills and style in everybody’s direction but their own.
3. Distracting Habits – A few gigs a week, a few sets a gig adds up to lots of other people’s songs to be learnt. And if you want to stay in that game you can’t rest on your repertoire. It needs to be constantly refurbished and revised. Precious time that you could be spending writing your own masterpieces.
4. Losing the Love – sweaty, sleazy punters (show me one cover singer who’s never heard ‘Show us Yer Tits’ during a normal night’s work); a sound system from 1975 that makes it almost impossible to hear yourself sing; being on stage in front of a Spinal Tap-worshipping guitarist making it almost impossible to hear yourself sing; venues that make you sit in a broom cupboard in between sets and then ‘forget’ to pay you…you get the picture and I’m only scratching the surface of this particular image. If you were doing your own thing you might see a light through the end of the tunnel of poker machines, but sometimes singing Beyonce and Britney night after night just doesn’t make this scene worth it!
5. Showing your Bad Side – When you write for yourself, you custom the songs to suit you. You don’t have to try to sound like Ke$ha to please the punters. Your own lyrics reflect the way only you would express yourself and you can manoeuver the melody to sit in your sweet spot. You’re presenting a brand new piece of art that is all you with no compromises and shows you at your best.
Next time: ‘Five Reasons You SHOULD Sing Covers’.
As usual, love to hear what you think,