Most artists and bands start by playing cover songs, but once they cross over into doing their own music, feel that they have to leave the covers behind. That might be a mistake however, as this new report conducted by Sonarworks indicates. Cover songs, especially on YouTube, can be a viable way not only to kick off an artist’s career, but enable them to make some real money as well.
As you can see from the image above, the top 10 channels that specialize in cover songs are making some healthy revenue over the last 12 months, with 7 out of 10 making 6 figure incomes. 7 out of 10 also have over 100 million views in those 12 months as well.
Let’s look at the top artists for cover songs now.
As you can see, at #1 is Boyce Avenue with around $750k earned within the last 12 months, but it’s not all because of YouTube revenue.
There’s That Copyright Again
Record labels and publishers have teams of employees that search for copyright infringements, and any artist that is racking up millions of views using one of its songs can be sure to pop up on their radar and soon be hit with a copyright claim. That said, usually the publisher (in this case) wants to make money too, so they’ll settle for a revenue split instead of a takedown.
That means that the artist is going to be making a lot less than they already are in YouTube royalties. As a result, cover song artists are branching out into other revenue areas, like live shows, merch, original music and Patreon followers. This has proved to be a lot more lucrative than just relying on YouTube or streaming revenue.
The fact of the matter is that cover songs are a viable way to raise an artist or band’s visibility that can help launch a career on a grander scale. As with the artists above, it’s led to more gigs and more exposure for their own music. It’s pretty apparent that if you’re really good at playing someone else’s songs, the world wants to hear!