Why it's OK to do covers (and probably a good idea)

Yes, you should. There is a big difference between being a "singer" and being an "artist". The journey toward authentic artistry can seem not only daunting but abstract . While you can develop vocal chops by singing along and imitating your favorite singers, as soon as you are able, you should detach yourself from the training wheels and explore your individuality. Writing your own music is of course a great way to begin this process, but then you are faced with the task of learning how to write songs! Even if you are able to write your own songs, are they any good? And who is going to want to listen? Creating your own version of a popular song is like riding someone else's wave to get the momentum going. And there ain't no shame in it! You may ask, how can I be "artistic" when singing someone else's song and not just imitate? What I'm talking about here is going beyond singing along to a karaoke track and recording yourself singing it just like the original artist. You need to stretch yourself artistically, and in order to that you should try doing a cover within these parameters:

  • Cover the opposite gender: If you are male, cover a song originally by a female. If you are female, cover a song originally by a male.
  • Reinvent the song. Create a new mood, a new sound, a new vibe. Make a dance song slow and acoustic. Make a ballad an upbeat tune. Change it up and make it your own.
  • Cover songs that have great melodies and great lyrics.
  • Cover songs that are or were hit songs. Unless you are making covers for your own entertainment, you'll drastically increase the chance of being noticed by covering well known songs.

How is this going to help you be a better artist? You will:

  • Learn how to sing something with your own voice and style.
  • Learn to recognize good songs that don't rely on polished production to be good.
  • Learn how to be creative
  • Deepen your understanding of music theory by learning chords and rhythms
  • Become a better instrumentalist by accompanying yourself on an instrument
  • Be one step closer toward writing your own music

One last thought: I say this with all the love in my heart for you, dear singers. But you (we) have a tendency to be a bit lazy since we can just open our mouths and out comes our voice. Creating your own unique product requires thought, some head-scratching, some decision making - all stuff that singers don't normally need to worry about when we sing along with another singer. In that instance, we are being told exactly how to phrase, express, time and otherwise deliver each note. When no one is telling you how to sing something, what comes out? Go find out right now. Pick a song that you love and create a brand new version of it. YOUR version of it.