8 practical reasons why artistes should do music covers

When you first heard Banky W’s cover of Rihanna’s Umbrella (Ebute-metta), it felt familiar and it left a longer impression than a new song (from same Banky you had never heard before) would have.

Banky W – Ebute Metta (Rihanna Umbrella Cover)

Olu and Tolu Maintain gained mainstream popularity as far back as the late 90s and early 2000s simply by doing popular localized covers of the very highly rated international songs back then. What am I even saying? The entire Nigerian industry at that time rode part-time off the backs of covers.

Tolu and Olu Maintain’s Catch cold = Cover of Ludacris ft Nate Dogg: Area Codes

Remedies Shakomo = Cover of Mc Lyte’s Keep on keeping on.

Rasqie’s Soji = cover of DMX: Ruff Ryders Anthem
I could go on and on…

In case you are wondering what I am on about; simply put, a music cover is a creative rendition of an already existing song. While some put a little twist by changing the lyrics, making an acoustic version, tweaking the tempo, instrumental arrangement etc, some just outrightly do it lyric for lyric, ad-lib for ad-lib.
I have spoken to quite a number of artistes and music practitioners who actually believe that doing music covers are a waste of time. Even though I respect their opinions and sometimes understand a liiiikkle of their standpoints, here are 8 reasons why I strongly believe music covers are very important and should be encouraged particularly in the early stages on an artiste’s music journey.

Mr Eazi covers Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier in an acoustic medley session

  • A music cover is a perfect place to begin for an artiste who cannot afford to start off on a big scale. Many artistes like the ones I mentioned above used this route and at the time, it worked perfectly. What do you do when you cannot afford to pay for an original beat? Get online, download free instrumental versions of songs you like or think you can work on and progress from there. Whether it is from a cover or a voice note, real potential will always shine through and bring you (at the very least ), “one listener” closer to your dreams.

  • Sometimes, covers are best when you have a serious message to pass across. (In the case of a popular tune,) listeners are less distracted due to prior knowledge of the instrumental sequence and focus more on the lyrics. Probably why you prepare yourself for sick diss punches and nothing more whenever you hear the instrumental of Ether.

John Networq- Love Yours (J.Cole cover)

  • As an average Nigerian musician, (emphasis on average) your chances of randomly getting airplay without some sort of budget or ima mmadu (connects) are plainly anorexic. Music covers on the flipside can get you surprise rotation on radio and even in clubs. “How?” you may ask. Well, OAPs and DJs who stumble upon it are likely to play it in comparison to the original song moreso if the original song is popping. If the cover is super impressive, that’s actually thrice the chance.

  • Music covers can double as a great measurement tool. For instance, if an artiste wants to explore a new genre or a new sound, doing a cover of a song that thrived in that music space can help to test for reception or whatever desired result.

Terry Apala- Shape of You (Ed Sheeran Cover)

  • Fans are a huuuuge part of any musician’s success and covers can help with gaining a few more as you are likely to tap into the predominant audience of the song covered and the original owner’s fanbase.

  • Covers can be capitalized on as a skill and creativity gymnasium for musicians. Many artistes use it as a medium to flex lyrical muscle thereby helping to strike the balance between their commercial materials and their sublime/conscious artistry and vice versa.

Terry Tha Rapman ft Pherowshuz & Stereoman – Sample (Ekwe rap cover)

  • Did you go AWOL at some point in your music career? A superbly creative cover of a song in demand can jolt you back to relevance. Remember when the whole world did a cover of Adele’s Hello?

Joe- Hello (Adele Cover)

  • Big artistes that do covers do not have 2 heads. The most popular Whitney Houston song you know was originally done by Dolly Parton. Almost half of Westlife’s discography are covers. MI Abaga’s Illegal music trilogy contain some of his best works where he’d creatively jump on a nicely chopped and screwed thread of popular instrumentals, and breathe a whole new lyrical dimension into it. Lil Wayne was quite the king of this too on the international side of things.

There’s no arguing the fact that original songs are… well, original BUT, covers also have a crucial part to play in the grand design of a musician’s career.

Shameless plug but when I first gave rap a shot in 2010, it was on Jayz’s Empire State of mind and for a first, it wasn’t half bad. (pats self on the back) Click here to have a good  throwback laugh ?.

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