Can You Make Money Recording and Releasing Cover Songs?

Covering popular songs has become more than just a hobby; it has evolved into a lucrative avenue for musicians to showcase their talents and make a living. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of cover songs, exploring the legalities, platforms for release, strategies for monetization, and tips for building a successful career in this niche.

Popularity of Cover Songs

In recent years, cover songs have gained immense popularity on various online platforms. Musicians worldwide are turning to covers to as an easier way to connect with audiences, and showcasing their creativity through reinterpretations of well-known tracks.

What makes cover songs even more appealing is the potential to generate income. From YouTube royalties to streaming revenue, cover artists have found innovative ways to turn their passion for music into a sustainable source of income.

The Legality of Cover Songs

Okay, so you’ve decided that you want to start doing cover songs but are quite rightly hesitant because of the scary world of copyright. Before embarking on this journey, artists must grasp the basics of copyright laws. Knowing the limitations and permissions associated with covering a song is crucial to avoiding legal complications and liabilities in the future.

Obtaining Necessary Licenses

To stay on the right side of the law, artists should secure the appropriate licences for covering copyrighted material. This includes mechanical licences for reproducing the music and synchronisation licences for using the song in visual content. You can of course  pursue these yourself which can be very time-consuming, or you can take advantage of ready-made services like Easy Song and easily get all the legal clearance you need to make money recording and releasing cover songs.

Risks Associated with Unauthorised Covers

Unauthorised covers can lead to legal issues, such as copyright infringement claims. Artists need to be aware of the risks and take necessary precautions to ensure their work is within legal boundaries. These things can sometimes take time to come to light, so you can fall into a false sense of security if no action is taken against you immediately but it’s really not worth it. Years down the line, you could still find yourself caught up in a legal dispute.

Where to Promote Cover Song Releases


YouTube remains a go-to platform for cover artists. Leveraging its vast audience, artists can gain visibility, earn ad revenue, and even collaborate with other creators to expand their reach. It also offers you the opportunity to perform live as well as having recorded music.

Spotify and Other Streaming Services

Streaming platforms like Spotify offer cover artists the chance to earn royalties based on the number of streams. Optimising profiles and playlists can enhance discoverability.

C. Social Media Channels for Promotion

In addition to major platforms, artists should utilise social media for promotion. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok provide unique opportunities for engaging with fans and promoting cover songs.

Monetizing Cover Songs

A. YouTube Monetization and Ad Revenue

YouTube’s Partner Program allows cover artists to monetize their videos through ads. This, coupled with views and engagement, can contribute significantly to an artist’s income. Having a large number of subscribers will make you an appealing partner to many brands out there.

B. Earning Through Streaming Platforms

Streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music provide cover artists with royalty payments based on the number of streams. Consistent releases and marketing efforts are key to maximising earnings.

C. Digital Distribution and Sales

Exploring digital distribution platforms allows cover artists to sell their music directly to fans. Platforms like DistroKid and TuneCore enable artists to reach wider audiences and earn from sales.

Building a Fan Base

A. Importance of Engaging Content

Beyond the music and releasing cover songs, creating engaging content is vital for building a fan base. Behind-the-scenes footage, Q&A sessions, and personal insights connect artists with their audience on a deeper level.

Shawn Mendes:

Shawn Mendes gained a following by posting cover videos on Vine and YouTube. One of his notable covers was of Ed Sheeran’s “As Long As You Love Me.” Mendes’ cover attracted millions of views and led to his discovery by artist manager Andrew Gertler. This exposure helped him secure a record deal with Island Records, launching his career as a pop star.

B. Utilising Social Media for Fan Interaction

Social media provides a direct line of communication with fans. Responding to comments, hosting live sessions, and running polls are effective ways to engage and grow a dedicated fan base.

You may even want to get your fanbase involved in choosing what song you choose to do a cover of.

C. Collaborating with Other Artists

Collaborations with fellow musicians can expand an artist’s reach. By tapping into each other’s fan bases, artists can mutually benefit from increased exposure and support. 

You might want to do a fun challenge with another musician where you each pick a song for teh other one to cover. This can work well if you have different audiences.

Tips for Successful Cover Songs

A. Selecting the Right Songs

Now this is going to be completely subjective. The only thing we would recommend is that you have some kind of connection to the song. The listening audience should be convinced that you wrote the song based on your performance. Take “I Will Always Love You” performed by Whitney Houston. Most people don’t even realise it’s a cover song because her performance was so epic.

Don’t worry about whether or not the original song is popular. Choose a song that demonstrates how great your performance skills are.

B. Adding a Personal Touch

Even though the song wasn’t written by you, your cover is all about your interpretation. Whether through vocal nuances or innovative arrangements, you should allow yourself to be free with the creative changes you make to the song. 

Generally, the further you are away from the original the better. Especially if it’s a well-known song. People’s ears will be used to hearing it one way and if your cover version is too similar, it will more than likely fail to make an impression.

C. Quality Production and Arrangement

Don’t underestimate how important quality production is in recreating a song. Yes the existing soe and arrangement is there, but you would do well to include some complimentary variations where it makes sense. Try not to over do it though. 

Investing in high-quality production enhances the overall appeal of cover songs. Crisp audio, professional arrangements, and visually appealing accompanying content contribute to a polished and marketable product.


Covering and releasing cover songs can indeed be a profitable venture for artists and a useful part of any strategy for success in the music business. Understanding the legalities, leveraging platforms, and implementing effective strategies are essential components for success.

To those considering a career in cover songs, the key lies in passion, perseverance, and strategic planning. With dedication and the right approach, artists can turn their love for covers into a sustainable and rewarding profession.


Q: Can I cover any song without obtaining a licence?

Q: How can I monetize cover songs on YouTube?

  • A: Join YouTube’s Partner Program, enable monetization for your videos, and earn revenue through ads, views, and engagement. You will have to first meet the requirements for Youtube’s Partner Program.

Q: Are there specific genres more suitable for cover songs?

  • A: While any genre can be covered, choosing popular and timeless songs often resonates better with a broader audience.

Q: What is the future of cover songs in the music industry?

  • A: Much as there are endless songs out there, and growing every day, the future holds endless opportunities for artists choosing to use cover songs to gain exposure. Staying adaptable to trends, platforms, and legal changes is crucial to your success.

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