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make your cover songs stand out

With the DIY revolution and the rise of the music middle class in today’s music industry, it’s really easy to get caught up in all the business and music promotion stuff.

But despite all the tools and resources and services at your fingertips online that can potentially get your music in front of a huge audience… The MUSIC still comes first. Quality music trumps all!

So we’re going to get back to our roots and share some confidence-boosting skills that could help you take your music to the next level so you can really stand out and get people excited at gigs and online.

One approach is to use cover songs. If you take the time to really bend the song and put your own flair on cover tunes, they’ll serve as a transition that will introduce your original music to new listeners. Think of it like a relatable point of reference that new fans can come through to become acquainted to you and your music.

So, to help you make the most of cover songs and turn them into tools that help you grow your audience and raise awareness for your originals – instead of being a big roadblock – Daniel Roberts from Hit Music Theory and I will be presenting a free webinar to explore how you can use music theory to create some killer cover songs.

Click here to sign up for free and choose the date and time that works best for you.

Come join us! During the webinar we will be covering:

1. How to manipulate rhythm and subdivision to keep your performances fresh and interesting and keep fans on their feet.

No matter how good a musician you are, your understanding and manipulation of subdivision, time and groove is always a rich creative well to draw from. This is especially important for live performances – simple shifts in the rhythm or subdivision can add that extra flair of interest to keep fans dancing and rocking through the whole song.

2. How to use your understanding of scales and tonality to create tension, anticipation, and release in your covers, and how to use these techniques to support the mood and lyrics of your songs.

Whether you know it or not, every piece of music draws heavily from at least one scale which is centered around a particular note. Knowing this scale and how you can manipulate it can open up enormous possibilities for how you approach playing and arranging a song.

But beyond just basic tonality, the notes and scales you draw from can very much influence and comment on the mood of a song. The scales you choose can create tension, anticipation, or release to illustrate musically what’s going on in the lyrics.

3. How to use harmonic function to create endless compelling hooks and riffs.

Many of the greatest hooks and riffs we love seem to have been created as if divined by some spirit or given by magic to a special artist…

But, if we break it down, a lot of the most iconic hooks and melodies are taken directly from a very limited set of notes that the artist knows work well.

Once you see what’s going on, you’ll be able to use the same techniques to create your own hooks and melodies or even adapt the greats to create your own unique cover version.

4. How to use modes to add variety to hooks to keep fans listening and excited even in repetitive songs.

“Modes” can sometimes be a scary word, but an understanding of this concept can open up endless musical possibilities for you.

5. How to use voice leading techniques create space in your arrangements so you can improve the sound of your live set and get that huge sound we all look for.

Your live show is where you’ll make the biggest impression on new and potential fans, so getting that perfect sound is really important. Unfortunately, if you’re playing in smaller venues and clubs, the sound system may not be ideal.

So we’re going to go through an easy voice leading technique that will allow you to create space in your arrangement – sonically separating your instrument parts so they don’t muddy each other down. (Hint: THIS is how those 2 or 3 man bands manage to get that HUGE sound.)

Plus, if you can master this, I guarantee every sound guy is going to love you!

We’ll be covering this and a whole lot more during the webinar. Click here to sign up for free.

Oh! And during the webinar we will be giving away a free online course called Hit Music Theory to some lucky person!

About the Speakers

Dave Kusek

Dave Kusek is the founder of Berklee Online and New Artist Model. Since teaching at Berklee College of Music, he’s been working to reinvent the way music theory is taught. The very best way to learn music is to apply what you are learning right away, so we developed a fun way to learn music theory by looking at popular music and finding the teachable patterns that make up the hits.

Daniel Roberts

Daniel has produced, composed, arranged, recorded, mixed, and mastered many music projects through his own record label, Ivystone Records, and he’s been teaching music theory to thousands of students. His radical approach makes understanding theory easy and something that you can immediately apply to your music.

 

how to make great cover songs

For a lot of musicians, there’s a bit of a love/hate relationship going on with cover songs. On one side of the equation, it’s fun and insightful to cover other people’s songs. And if you pick the right song, fans will really go crazy when they hear a classic tune.

On the other side, covers can be downright frustrating. Especially in the early stages of a music career, venues want mostly cover sets, and the covers you release online can seem to get more attention than your originals. It can make you feel underappreciated, almost like the industry is pushing you into a cover band box. Tributes “R” Us.

So that leads to today’s topic… How to make great cover songs. AND how to use covers to actually raise awareness for your ORIGINAL music.

To show you how to make cover songs and turn them into musical expressions and tools that help you grow your audience and raise awareness for your originals, we’re hosting a free webinar. Daniel Roberts and I will be walking through 5 essential “Ninja Skills” that you can use to adapt cover songs to your own unique style and make a mark on the cover song world.

Click here to sign up for free (choose the date and time that works for you).

In the mean time, here are some Cover Song Basics and best practices you can start using right now:

1. Make it Your Own

What’s the best way to get people who hear your covers into your original music? Put your own unique spin on every song you cover. That means bending the songs stylistically to fit with the kind of music you play and write. Sometimes that will mean a few minor tweaks or just adding your own color. Sometimes it’s a total genre switch and completely different instrumentation.

Not only does this make you stand out from the multitude of cover songs flooding the internet and venues, it also makes the transition to your original music a lot smoother. In a way, listeners have already gotten a little taste of your original sound by listening to your cover rendition. They’ll have a much better sense of what you’re all about as an artist and will be much more comfortable when you move to the original song.

We’ll be really drilling down into this point in the free webinar, so make sure you join us live for more awesome tips!

2. Focus on Subscribers Over Views

There’s this fascination with “viral” videos in the music industry. But a ton of views on a cover aren’t worth much on YouTube unless you can get in touch with those people again. We’ve seen a lot of musicians hit it with a crazy viral video only to release an original music video on deaf ears.

So instead of thinking, “How can I get 10,000 views,” get yourself in the mindset of, “How can I get as many viewers as possible to subscribe?” Setting up suggested videos or playlists on your YouTube channel can be a great way to get people to continue watching, which increases the chance they’ll actually subscribe.

This goes for your live shows too. If you are forced into doing cover sets, think about ways you can connect with those people again. Maybe it’s a contest where they have to follow you on Facebook to enter. Or even a USB stick that you hand out for free with a recording of one of your original songs and your social media channels written out on it.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Call to Actions

And that leads us into the next point – utilizing call to actions. So what exactly is a call to action? It’s basically just you directly asking your viewers or listeners to take some further action. Maybe it’s watching another video, or subscribing to your channel, or entering your contest, or clicking the link in your description box.

If you’ve never done this before, it can definitely feel a little awkward and even pushy at first. BUT it’s been proven time and time again that directly asking people to do something increases the chance that they will.

If you’re releasing covers on YouTube, you can easily use “cards” to suggest other videos your viewers can watch next. As you upload your video, you’ll be able to add cards in the “Cards” tab across the top of the upload screen. Use cards to suggest other cover songs or even original songs when people reach the end of your videos.

If you’re doing a cover gig in a venue, it’s pretty easy to add little call to actions as you talk to the audience. Ask them to follow you on Facebook for more covers and originals, or to see photos that you posted from the show.

Ask fans to visit a certain URL where they can get a few songs in exchange for an email address. Try giving them a cover and an original to introduce them to your own music. If you’re really savvy, give out little download cards so they don’t even have to memorize the URL.

 

As you can see, cover songs can be an extremely valuable part of your approach. And on top of that, they can really help you grow your audience and get more fans.

If you want more ideas of how to make cover songs your own, I hope you’ll join Daniel Roberts and I in a free webinar. Click here to register for free and learn the 5 essential “ninja skills” that every musician needs.

AGENDA:

Here are a few things you’ll learn during the webinar:

  1. SUBDIVISION & GROOVE – Rhythmically drop into any musical context and make people dance.
  2. SCALES & TONALITY – Immediately know where the “right” notes are before ever playing a new song.
  3. HARMONIC FUNCTION – Be able to understand and play chord progressions after only hearing them once.
  4. MODES – Find the best notes to play over any chord to make your melodies stronger and more memorable.
  5. VOICE LEADING – Create smooth chord progressions and riffs that don’t get in the way of other parts.