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Covers VS Originals

hey guys, a search didn't find this topic.

The topic is covers VS originals. I've actually been working on a number of originals. I'm not completely satisfied with them, yet, but I think in many respects I'm closer to them, than my most recent cover I posted.


One advantage to originals is there's no one singing them to compare to me as well.


However, I read somewhere recently that covers were " the way to go" so, dropped the originals recently to work on covers. Is it a grass is greener problem?


What singers did better with originals? Off the top of my head I would say Bob Dylan excelled in originals, and covers probably not so much.

Of course we're assuming the originals are very well written, and engaging.



  • ikingiking Posts: 330Pro

    Should I stick to Originals only? If I do covers, too, is it best to only do covers one is super
    passionate about? Or can a good singer " do any cover", { within reason}

  • videoacevideoace Posts: 2,112Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited April 2018
    I also write my own songs, and here is my take.

    I like to practice technique using cover tunes. I do this because when I get a vocal set for an original song, it's nearly impossible for me to sing it another way. I see it, hear it a certain way, and it stays. Lets say I get better at singing, and want to change the way I sing an original. My brain won't let me. It's already convinced that the first way is the only way. So for that reason I practice with covers.

    As far as my professional career goes? Originals all the way. I want people to hear my abilities, not me showing that I can keep up with someone else's abilities.
    You can have a successful music career doing covers also (depending on ones definition of success). There are a lot of people who make a nice living doing it.

    Bottom line, covers for me is just training for my originals. Just like Ken's course is training for my singing.

    Peace, Tony

  • TommyMTommyM Posts: 270Pro
    I'm coming at this from a different angle from my friend, Tony, as singing covers is largely what I do now over writing and performing original material. It's been through necessity since working in covers bands generally pays a few quid here and there, but I'm going to be filling in as the singer over the next two years in a professional wedding band. Based on the current schedule for 2018-2020 and pay rates, I'll walk away after tax with more money than I ever made working in offices and call centres for 40+ hours a week. So aye, the money can be good but I would say that it really does come at a price, unless you approach it with the right attitude: It can be soul destroying doing nothing but covers, especially to an empty bar or a disinterested crowd or with a band who suck.

    The last band I was with were crap. One of the guitarists was amazing and a great musician, but the rest of them were older guys who wanted to be rockers but looked like fat chemistry teachers. Playing with them totally sucked the soul out of some songs for me as they were so drab and often all over the place with their timing. We still got paid about £300 a night though as a five-piece, so roughly £60 each on a good night for three hours work. Not great money and I screwed my voice thank to their lack of professionalism and volume control, but it was a learning experience and eventually brought me to KTVA.

    I also used to 'play' bass with my late friend in a wedding duo about 15 years was ridiculous, I actually mimed along to MIDI backing tracks - like, the proper, old Atari-era Cubasis MIDI stuff and GM Drums - played from a DAT while he played guitar and sang. Even then, I still made £30 for each gig so it's an example of how doing covers, and even just outright faking it, can be profitable. A more hilarious example was when I worked with the same guy and a real bass player as a trio...I was MIMING PLAYING THE DRUMS on a real kit. I should also mention here, I am a dreadful drummer and I pull faces that make Nicko McBrain look handsome.

    I had to HIT the drums with sticks, not even brushes, and look like I was playing along with what was clearly a bloody MIDI drum track like something from an Amstrad computer game. This was in a big hall too, so the slightest strike of the kit reverberated more loudly and every beat was audible. To make matters worse, I had absolutely no idea how to play 99% of the songs so I sat for THREE HOURS pretending to play the drums for songs I didn't know. I remember looking out at the crowd and seeing a group of guy who obviously knew I was bullsh*tting. I grinned at them and did an air drum fill like "In The Air Tonight". And yes, I did get paid for it.

    Sorry, I've kinda veered off on a tangent here but I thought you'd get a laugh out of that in the context of your question. Basically what I'm saying is that, yes, it's possible to either squeeze out a living or make a reasonable income via cover, but...

    When it comes to singers who've made it with original songs, you've either never heard any other singer/songwriter than Bob Dylan or you're ignoring hundreds of talented artists who've made their fortune with originals. In some cases, a songwriter will write a song for an artist or the artist/manager/whoever might buy the rights to the song. That wouldn't be a cover per se, otherwise Aerosmith after 1992 would pretty much be a Desmond Childs cover band, if you get what I mean.

    It all depends on what you're going for, but I think an engaging original track would catch the attention almost as well as a generic cover version. Remember too, there's straight up covers like the sort of wedding band stuff I'm talking about, and there's also your own interpretations, e.g. I did a stripped back version of Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgetting" and it sounds like a different song. It's a cover version, but I've reinterpreted it to suit my voice and style.

    Covers, by and large, are boring. You either make them your own or it's like karaoke, and both are fine depending on the context. The current singer in the band I'm joining is very much an average "good karaoke singer" guy; nice voice, quite good power but a lot of bad techniques and absolutely no head voice or falsetto. To my ear, the band sound less exciting than they would do with more performance and emotion in the vocals. Little distinctions like that can make a big difference in whether you do a cover, or pull of your own version with your own stamp on it.

    Hope this helps!

  • ikingiking Posts: 330Pro
    Hey guys,

    thanks for the responses! A lot of material here to digest , before I could give a full
    proper response.

    But just briefly, one issue I was pondering was vocal ability vs covers/ originals.

    That's why I brought up Bob Dylan. Yes he's the only songwriter I've ever heard, unfortunately.... I've lived a sheltered.... Just kidding - LOL.

    I have no problem with his early voice, all though it's controversial to some. I will say on more recent live recordings though - you can hear some problems with it.

    Anyway, someone like Ken is a great cover singer, as he's shown many times. But
    if you're not as good, is it better to do originals? That's the gist of it.


  • videoacevideoace Posts: 2,112Pro, 2.0 PRO
    To be honest, if you're not good, you're not good. It doesn't matter what you are singing.
  • ikingiking Posts: 330Pro
    To be honest, if you're not good, you're not good. It doesn't matter what you are singing.

    ha, its back to practice, then, I guess!
  • DiegoDiego Posts: 5532.0 PRO
    I usually sing covers to practice like @videoace . Like he said "I want people to hear my abilities, not me showing that I can keep up with someone else's abilities." is kind of what I want to do If I get into a professional music career. I first want to build up a strong voice. So for now, I'm following some of my idols' footsteps, but eventually I will go and make my own path. Haha.


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