Can a singer or band find a 'niche' marketing their music on the Internet using old tunes and cover songs? That was a question put to me recently by a visitor to the Music Biz Academy.
"I am told over and over again that I have a great voice. I'd love to sell my own brand of CD's. I can write music, but prefer to start by simply singing classic ballads (standards, big band, etc.). Here's my question: Can a solo singer make any kind of "niche" recording old standards, or do you really have to have new original, music? Everyone who hears me sing asks 'Why aren't you singing professionally?', so I guess I'd like to start by promoting my music on the Internet for exposure. Is the Internet a good place to begin?" - Bruce
Actually, starting out promoting a 'known' work makes you more instantly marketable, as far as the Internet is concerned, than a band with just original works. Why? Because you can use the pre-existing popularity of a known band or song as a launching point to promote your own music to fans of the original cover song in question.
One of the biggest online music 'success stories' I know is of a band called Rondellus, who plays Black Sabbath songs done in a medieval style. Their producer, Mihkel Raud, informed me that after reading and putting into practice ideas from my book, they were able to sell over 3000 CDs from their web site in just nine months. Amazing, huh? But it makes sense, if you think about it. The nature of the music that Rondellus has to offer allows them to use the Internet to target fans of both medieval style music and the band Black Sabbath. They have a pre-made audience to target for themselves.
Another good example is the CD 'Prozak for Lovers.' This album, which has been a best-selling CD at CDBaby.com for as long as I can remember, is nothing more than classic rock songs put to cheesy music. It's hokey, but it sells.
So, if you have a recording of a KNOWN song by a KNOWN artist (and have paid the mechanical royalties for permission to use that song), you can actually make use of that song to help you target a pre-existing fan base, and introduce them to your particular take on the cover song.