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Covering Music: The New Road to a Musical Career?

The Internet, since its inception and spread into households, has provided individuals with the opportunity to express with others who they are, and what gifts that they may possess, both intellectually and artistically. The Internet has become a place where people create an identity to share with the world. Using digital tools, such as YouTube, people have been able to post themselves doing things that help them get their names out into the world to potential future employers. This willingness to post oneself doing something online has created a place where trends can be formed and easily replicated. It has allowed us to obtain accelerated success in whatever field we so choose. For some, it is a stadium whose seats can be easily increased depending on the views from the song. It only takes one video or song to go viral and to potentially make a large career for oneself while doing it. Whether they collect YouTube checks, or actually get signed to a record label, the Internet has become a place to be recruited. Instead of handing off a demo to a major artist and hoping that he or she would listen to it, one can put forth their best effort and post it online. Instead of relying on record labels to distribute music, one can use the Internet to become a successful, independent artist. One way in which artists are rising up to obtain musical careers is through using YouTube and other websites to make covers/remixes of popular songs in order to display and popularize their own talents. The Internet has allowed prospective artists different resources to make music that they may have not ever had before.

A cover song is the recording of a song by one person, which was made popular by another artist. The most covered song ever is “Yesterday,” by the Beatles, which has been covered over three thousand times. Presently, people on YouTube opt to remake contemporary pop songs, which helps them gain a potentially high number of views if people find the cover to be great. If one covers an unpopular song, less people will search for it on YouTube. If one covers an ascending song, more people will search for it on YouTube or anywhere else, and might run into the cover of said song. Otherwise, people will search for covers, and if they like what they hear, they may subscribe to the channel and potentially spread the singer’s popularity. If one becomes popular, the more likely it is that he or she becomes more willing to release an original piece of work to the public and/or be found by a talent scout of a record label. Covering songs have helped aspiring artists get their name out there in the world of the internet, and has subsequently led to careers for many of them. A prominent example of this process working out is the career of Justin Bieber, who began his career covering other artist’s songs.

Justin Bieber is perhaps the greatest and most notable example of an artist obtaining success through the use of the Internet. After placing second in a musical competition, his family posted the videos of the competition on YouTube for the rest of his family to see. He later started recording himself doing other covers, mainly of R&B artists such as Ne-Yo and Chris Brown. He would take requests from his fans on what songs to cover next. In this way, Bieber became a “prosumer,” listening to what his audience wanted and giving an immediate response to that. His videos were later seen by accident by his now manager Scooter Braun, who saw his work and wanted to represent him. Later on, his videos spread and became more popular, which interested both Usher and Justin Timberlake, who wanted to sign Justin Bieber, presumably to make money off of the soon teenage pop sensation. Bieber would later attract many young females across the globe with his music and general appeal. Soon the “Bieber fever” spread across America and throughout the world, as Justin Bieber became a household name. All of his popularity can be basically be traced back to covers that he performed on YouTube. Without the Internet, the world may have never witnessed a Justin Bieber. The community that is a part of the Internet in YouTube made Justin Bieber a relevant figure. YouTube jump started his career, and allowed him to jump right into the pop music scene.

Another person who used covering songs on YouTube to propel their own career was Cody Simpson, who, in plain words, can be described as an Australian Justin Bieber. He too posted videos of covers from various songs during the summer of 2009. The posting of these covers started after he performed a song at his school’s talent show. Soon the views started to pile up, one of which was the producer/songwriter Shawn Campbell. Campbell harassed Simpson’s family into getting him some studio time, and the rest of his musical career fell into place. Once again, the online community in YouTube showed their support to a talented person who sang songs and posted it for other’s enjoyment. Without YouTube, we would most likely have never heard about another artist.

Covering songs online has no doubt become a trend that has spread due to the great successes that some artists have experienced. People have seen that artists like Justin Bieber or Cody Simpson started off in the same spot that they are in now. The YouTube road is one that can easily be attempted but even more easily failed. It has become such a trend that even people like “IceJJFish,” real name Daniel Mcloyd, can experience some sort of success in the “covering of songs” despite not being talented at all. In a community where there’s been an influx of talented people who are making cover after cover to songs, it becomes harder to stick out. Every talented person becomes the norm and everyone who covers a song just becomes that ordinary person who could sing, but probably will not make it anywhere. The audience is becoming so spoiled with covers, that we no longer appreciate talent for what it is. This is why, as a community, we laugh at people like IceJJFish, because although they are covering songs, they are doing it in a completely different and unexpected way. Ironically, IceJJFish’s career is sort of climbing, as his videos are going viral, and he is meeting various rappers who are probably looking to capitalize on his newfound fame to promote themselves.

The Internet is a community that accepts people, for the most part if they are indisputably talented and hardworking, and helps propel them to newer and higher positions. The Internet can help to jumpstart the careers of many artists, helping them along the way by giving them advice in the comment section, demanding certain behaviors that the artist follows. Artists then respond to what the consumer wants which helps increase the quality of the total product. Covering songs is the new way to become noticed by record companies and the people in general. People whom do cover songs just need to make sure that they do not lose sight of somehow presenting themselves as unique because covering songs is a popular practice. One can easily blend themselves in with others if not careful. Otherwise, it appears that covering songs and following the covering songs lane is the best bet to quickly ascend up the ranks to become famous and release music.

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