Cover Versus Original Songs on YouTube

A common question among many aspiring artists, looking to build their brand on YouTube, is whether to put out cover or original songs on their channel. A few artists I know on YouTube have brought up that they try to stray away from cover songs out of fear that they will be known as a “cover artist.” Before I give my opinion, here is a list of advantages and disadvantages for both options, in my perspective:

Song Covers

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Drives more initial traffic due to advantage in YouTube organic search rankings: If you are covering a popular song like “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga, odds are people are searching for it constantly, which increases the likelihood of your video appearing.
  • Difficulty to acquire rights to run ads: Due to copyright laws, it is quite difficult to acquire the rights to monetize a cover song.
  • Higher chance of exposure: Because the song you are covering is probably a well known song, most of the time, and if it’s good, this will increase the likelihood of getting more views. For example, in the case of Maria Aragon, who covered Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” her video went viral after it was tweeted by Lady Gaga.

Original Songs

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Easy to acquire rights to run ads: Since you and/or your partners own the rights, it is easier to run ads to potentially monetize.
  • Barely or no support in the YouTube organic search rankings: If people have never heard of you or your song before. Because of that, you will have to do much more promotion work for your video.
  • Helps present you skills as a songwriter/producer: If the original content you produce is good, it can potentially earn you more respect as an artist.

 

 

I believe that regardless of what you’re personal goals are, in terms of producing content on YouTube, you need to find a happy medium between performing covers and producing original content. YouTube is a medium to help promote your work as an artist. Assuming you are trying to excel as a singer/songwriter, my advice is to put most of your time honing in on your craft as an artist, because regardless of how popular social media is, good content is still king. The second step would be to produce cover songs and put your own special twist to it. This will allow you to increase the likelihood of your video being watched, while giving a taste of who you are as an artist. Over time, as you build your following, you can start pumping out original content. This is a similar formula that YouTube sensation David Choi followed. Choi is now regarded as one of the most successful musicians in New Media.

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