Category :


How to Do a Great Cover Song

How to Do a Great Cover Song - by Robin Yukiko

Work with what you’ve got. Play to your strengths (literally). If you have a great range, showcase it with big sweeping melodies (Queen, Mariah Carey, and other non-cheesy artists as well!). If your tone is average but you have a great sense of groove, cover more rhythmic songs that highlight that. Choose a song that could have been written for you.

Find your key. Just because the original singer can hit that low G doesn’t mean that’s what is best for you. Find your best range and make sure you are hitting your sweet spots. There are plenty of apps that can transpose your favorite song to your perfect key if you don’t want to do it yourself (or, there are people like me that can help you).

Do it your way. Unless you are playing a wedding and it’s the couple’s special song, don’t feel married to the original version. Try different embellishments. Find your voice and treat the tune like you wrote it.

Experiment with arrangement. Try changing the time signature/feel. (Here is my rendition of Outkast’s “Hey Ya” as a waltz, for example.) Make a rock song into a ballad, or vice versa. Put jazz chords to a simple pop song. Turn a heavily produced number into a minimalist piece (this is also a good way to go if you are still struggling with self-accompaniment).

Get permission. If you’re playing an open mic, this isn’t such a big issue. But if you plan on recording a cover and sending it out into the world, check out the info on licensing at the Harry Fox Agency.

Robin Yukiko is a Berklee College of Music grad, singer-songwriter, pianist, and music educator in San Francisco. She hosts the SF Singer-Songwriters’ Workshop at the Musicians Union Local 6. Learn more at


2 Biggest Promotion Budget Mistakes

Consumers Are Starving For Your Music

Getting a record deal

How To Send The Perfect Demo

6 Music Industry Myths

Creating the Perfect Set List

Loving what I used to hate

Cliches You Need to Stop Using Now

Why You Might Need a Producer

10 Worst Song Demo Mistakes

Why Vocal Training is Important in Becoming a True Artist

The A&R Guy


It's Not The Tools That Don't Work, it's The Band

Artists Should Build Lifelong Relationships with their Fans

7 Tips to Increase Your Exposure and Potential

8 Steps to Your First Song: From Idea to Professional Production

Letting Go of Perfection

Unbundling the Album: A Business Case for Releasing Single Songs

From Riches to Rags

What Are The Best Books on Music Promotion and The Music Business?

So…the CD is dead? The trick is to Diversify.

If I Never Made a Dime

What Are Your Fans Saying About You?

How To Change Key Successfully In Your Music

What Are The Essential Features Of a Hit Record?

The Importance of Being a Frontman

What's The Real Cost of Signing A Major Record Deal?

Want a record deal? Here is what you need to do.

Inside the Mind of an A&R

What Record Labels Are Looking For When Scouting Artists

Finding The Best Record Label For Your Style Of Music & Goals

Defining Your Style

The Truth About Mainstream Success

How Releasing Holiday Covers Can Skyrocket Your Promotion

Why Streaming Your Music Is A Good Thing

Being a Well Rounded Musician VS Mastering One Instrument

3 Tips For Landing A Record Deal

How Youtube Can Get You Seen, Heard, and Trended

Why You Should Care About Your Image

3 Simple Tips for Getting Noticed In Today's Music Industry

Signup Free