Public domain songs are goldmines when it comes to covers and remakes. Songs that fall in the public domain are free to use for any reason, and many of these songs are popular hits that can take your musical projects to the next level. With public domain songs, you can add your own unique spin on a popular song that people are already familiar with, making it a great way to get exposure and attract new fans.
Public domain songs can be recorded and distributed on streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music. They can also be coved on Youtube without you worrying about getting hit with a copyright strike. I remember a time when making Youtube covers was so simple, and boy, do I miss those days. Don't get me wrong, I understand the need for copyright claims, but the takedowns often seem excessive and unnecessary.
If you're a producer, you can also incorporate some of these melodies into your instrumentation without having to worry about clearing the rights for them.
Related Post: How To Make A Cover Song Your Own When Singing It
Typically, all songs that were created over 75 years ago are now available in the public domain. For example, songs that just became public domain in 2021 were written in 1923. The length of time varies by location, while some exceptions allow the songs to be protected for up to 95 years.
Here is a list of very popular public domain songs that you can add to your repertoire. There are several to choose from in a variety of different genres, including jazz and musical theatre, that can be turned into massive hits at any moment.
Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin - This jazz classic was recently made available to the public for covers and remakes in 2020.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer - This is a popular song that was recorded in 1908. It's often called the unofficial anthem for baseball.
Happy Birthday owned by Warner/Chappell Music - Everyone's favorite birthday song was under copyright until 2016.
Rockin’ Robin by Leon Rene, aka “Jimmie Thomas” - This song was popularly covered by one of the greatest of all time, Michael Jackson.
Fur Elise by Beethoven - Here's a hugely popular piano tune that can be incorporated into your instrumental and vocal melodies.
By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Gus Edwards - Consider this cute love song for a solo or a duet like Doris Day & Gordon MacRae.
Plaisir d'amour by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini - This french love song is very old but amazingly romantic and good for a remake in many genres.
The Star-Spangled Banner by John Stafford Smith and Francis Scott Key - The National Anthem for The United States Of America is free to be performed or covered by anyone.
Home On The Range by Higley VI. Higley and Daniel E. Kelley - Here's another American favorite that has been covered many times before.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Vernon Dalhart - This classic has been remade several times over the last century, and for a good reason.
As you can imagine, each year brings a great amount of new music available to use. This excited people so much that there is now an observed holiday to celebrate each new batch of songs on the 1st of January. Public Domain Day events have been hosted worldwide for the last few years. It's not known who officially started the holiday, but the celebrations started after the year 2000.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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