You released a cover song. Should you spend money promoting it?
If you record a cover of your favorite song, you may want others to see it. Should you put the word out by advertising it? Are you even allowed to?
A guest post by Fiona Z of The Musician’s Five Star Assistant.
February is here and I don’t know about you but things are in FULL swing for 2022 already. Releases, tours, etc. are all being carried out and there’s definitely an energy going around. It’s exciting – and quite busy! But the good kind for sure.
For one client in particular, she is strategizing to cater to more private event bookings and looking to enhance her content to showcase her skills for those types of events. She brilliantly created a medley video, where she performed dozens of cover songs within minutes. It’s entertaining and does exactly what she needs it to do – showcase her range for performing live.
With this video, she obviously wanted to release it and get as many views as possible before pitching it to event bookers to show that she has an impact with her music. Usually, you would put out the video and then to grow views exponentially, place advertisements on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. However in our conversation about this strategy we both stopped. Cover songs are not exactly approved by these platforms to post and place ads on (unless you have the license set in place). And this was more complicated, this was 15-30 seconds of multiple cover songs! Plus it was not an official release meaning no license was obtained at this point.
We both hit up Google but the answers were too vague or mostly just about cover songs / licensing. We knew we could likely post the video without getting it taken down, but advertising could be a different story. Her page already was shortly suspended for another release earlier this year so she wanted to be very cautious about this.
I reached out to colleagues in the industry:
“You should be fine if you cleared it with the distributor.”
“Not likely to come down but highly unlikely to be allowed to monetize someone else’s copyrights”
“It’s definitely not allowed to be used as an ad. Whether or not you can get away with it is another story.”
I also remembered the “mash up star” GirlTalk who was very popular in the late 2000s, how he sampled thousands of songs without licenses, and was hit hard with cases of infringement. He came out hot after the trails of the recording industry cracking down on illegal downloading. In the end, he came out fine as it was deemed that his samples were short enough to not hurt the original release. In short, if you heard the sample in his music, odds are it only made you like the original track more. If you haven’t heard of him or his story, watch the documentary about him and copyright infringement here.
Back to my client, we discussed what could work for us and still help her reach her goals of getting this video in front of as many eyes as possible.
We decided to post the video on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, but only placed advertising on Youtube. While advertising on Facebook and Instagram would have been nice, it was highly likely those platforms would either not allow it or take down the video. And Youtube developed a monetization system to allow rights holders and content creators to bypass the usual licensing process for cover song videos.
And…we’re still standing today, all profiles and videos live.
It also made more sense to focus on one video to grow views on, and thinking ahead, we’d most likely be sharing a Youtube link to future bookers vs a FB or IG link.
I wanted to share this story because we couldn’t find the answer when we were looking, and my hope is that this can help other artists make a decision when posting their cover or medley videos.