Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Covers Debate

I'm forever getting asked this at gigs etc. "Why do you play covers when you can write songs?"

While I have the utmost respect for artists who refuse to play cover songs live, and once I was in this category for a while, there are a number of reasons why some of my gigs are cover heavy.

1. The type of venue: The majority of the pubs and clubs at least in my area are looking to book artists who play covers. It's just a fact. I know it's different in certain cities. and it's different for dedicated music venues but for the majority of pubs I play in they specifically want covers and I tell them exactly what they are going to get before they book me. It's not to say that I don't put my original songs in, but the main reason why I am booked and to play is to sell drinks and create an atmosphere. I play what I figure the crowd wants, whether that is covers or my own music.

2. I enjoy it, pleasing the crowd with either a cover or my own song gives me an equal amount of satisfaction. I've still yet to perform a cover I don't want to do. And yes I love my cheesy pop covers and even better when it's done with an acoustic twist.

3. I don't want to limit my outlets. I do still play venues who expect you to have original music and that is still my main motivation. But it's a very risky business venture for me playing solely my own material. I'd have to have an extra job at this moment in my career. The extra money I earn from playing cover gigs all goes towards my living and not to mention CDs, transport etc.

4. I wouldn't be at the talent level I am now (whatever this is perceived at) without performing covers live, all these influences are inflicted onto my songwriting and have strengthened my singing and guitar playing along the way, not to mention all the confidence I've gained by playing over 200 gigs.

5. Playing covers has eased people into my own music, the cover gets their attention and then I see them foot tapping to my own song.

6. Playing covers has not restricted my creative output, I'm currently putting the finishing touches to my 3rd release in 3 years. and my 3rd music video.

There are some downsides:

When I'm doing cover gigs it's quite hard for people to see my direction and identity. and I could get mistaken as a sole cover artist. Well the answer is that as a recording artist I write and produce original songs, but as an entertainer live I will play what I see as fit for the crowd venue.

I welcome people/musicians into this debate. and the oppositional view.

Cheers, Ben