What Does It Mean To Cover A Song? Sunday August 8 2021, 2:21 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
What Does It Mean To Cover A Song?

What Is A Cover For A Song?

To make a cover of a song means making your own interpretation of a song.

While people in all genres and styles sing tunes created by someone else, a cover means that you have created a version that gives the song a new feel because of how you sing and perform it. 

A cover is often done acoustically with a guitar. Several singers perform covers on sites like Youtube and Tik Tok.

While the original song has a full instrumental production, the cover version can be done acapella, with piano, with guitar, or even using the song's instrumental version. Your interpretation of the song can still be unique based on your vocals, not the music. 

Related Post: How To Make A Cover Song Your Own When Singing

Where Does The Term "Cover" Come From?

Cover versions of a song were first coined to describe songs that someone would make to compete with the original version of the song.

For example, this was popular in the 1940s and 1950s, with Paul Williams' 1949 hit tune "The Hucklebuck" and Hank Williams' 1952 song "Jambalaya", which was the cover version. This was seen as "covering up" or taking the profit of a popular song to spotlight your own version. 

Cover songs also have a dark and racist past when we consider the acts of musicians and labels around the 1950s and 1960s.

Many original songs created by African Americans were "covered" (and therefore covered up) so that white artists and bands could take the credit and spotlight for the hits that were made. 


Cover Vs. Remake 

Another word for a cover song is a remake, but there is a small distinction between the two terms.

While cover songs give a new interpretation to the original, a remake takes it a step further and creates a fully different production with new elements and ideas presented. 

A remake can loosely use some of the original song's ideas but make it so that there is enough originality with the song's instrumentation and lyrics to where it feels like more than just a cover.

A popular song that is often remade is "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 

Related Post: What Does It Mean When A Song Is Remastered?

Cover Song Rights 

In order to release and distribute a cover song or a remake, you have to make sure you realize that you cannot register this work as your own.

Covers can be uploaded to streaming services like Spotify and Apple music, but you will need a distributor like Distrokid, who can cover certain rights agreements for you. The license you will need is called a compulsory mechanical license. 

Cover songs are also hard to upload to a site like Youtube due to copyright limitations. Some copyright owners don’t mind YouTube covers.

In contrast, others require you to get that mechanical license through a company like the Harry Fox Agency, which can be costly for an independent artist. 

Related Post: Here are some good songs that are in the public domain that you can cover without copyright limitations.


Cover Bands

Some bands like to perform strictly cover songs instead of doing originals, and it can really work well for some occasions and careers.

Cruise musicians are a popular example of performers that sing, play, and dance along to popular tunes on the regular and don't really focus on their own songwriting and production efforts. 

Cover bands also work well for weddings, work parties, restaurants, resort locations, and similar types of events where music is needed, but it's preferred for non-originals. 


In conclusion, a cover song is a personal interpretation and performance of an existing song. It involves giving the song a new feel through your vocals and performance style.

Covers are often done acoustically with a guitar but can also be created using different instruments or acapella. The term "cover" originated from the idea of competing with the original version of a song,

A cover song is different from a remake, as a remake goes beyond interpretation and creates a completely new production with fresh elements.

Overall, covers allow artists to showcase their creativity and put their unique spin on beloved songs while respecting the original creators.

Related Post: How To Make A Song Instrumental For Remakes And Covers


Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page.

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