My Gravity Falls arrangement was over 4 minutes long. However, the original song is only 30-40 seconds long. So that means there was over 3 minutes of purely original material by me. I eventually had to change it all to original material as I noted here, so the entirety of “Newton” is a complete 4 minute original composition by me.
But I’ve been thinking recently about anchoring off of covers vs. releasing original material. Would sales be better? Worse?
There’s a consumer’s psychological excitement and acceptance that goes into already being able to identify with something before it’s experienced. In fact, it happens in Jazz music all the time: the musicians will play the melody for 15 seconds, trade solos for 5 minutes, then “cap” it at the end.
And the audience LOVES it. Every single time.
But it’s really just a head fake: it was simply a solo camouflaged by a 15 second intro and ending so that the audience could identify with it.
This highlights the importance of identity. It’s not that people don’t buy original music, it’s just that if I take that same exact original music of mine and “sandwich” it in-between a cover song then everyone will love it. But what they fail to realize is that I’m including mostly original material in my cover songs anyway.
Let’s take the same exact 3 minutes of my original material that I mentioned above, and place it into 2 completely different cover songs:
1.) Slayer ‘Angel Of Death’ 2.) Justin Bieber ‘Somebody To Love’
No matter what the end result is, both groups will hate/love my work. If I “hide” my music inside the Justin Beiber track, then all the Slayer fans will say my original music sucks. And if I hide it inside the Slayer track then all the Justin Beiber fans won’t buy it or like it either. Simply put - it’s all about perspective. So does a rose by any other name smell just as sweet?
So now let’s take this idea to photographs: take a completely normal scenery picture, then add it onto an Incubus CD. No one cared about that photo before, but now it’s suddenly getting recognized. However, it’s no different than millions of others. Bluntly put: the photograph has finally been accepted simply because of it’s new association. But based on my Slayer/JB example above, Incubus fans LOVE that picture and claim it to be a work of art - however, if they first saw that same exact picture on a Taylor Swift CD then they’d claim it to be the ugliest picture of all time.
This is human psychology. It’s like assuming a guy next to you at a bar is creepy, only to find out moments later that he’s actually your best friend’s older brother. Suddenly, your perception of him has changed from really creepy to really cool. Right?
So that’s why I pay a portion of my sales to the original songwriters - it’s because I’d rather make 60% of something than 100% of nothing. Identity is important.
I understand that there are a lot of artists who follow me. So here’s the thing: I’m not saying every painter, musician, author, or film director has to start doing cover songs or derivatives of popular topics… but what I am saying is to give it a chance. Give everything a chance. It’s all about social dynamics.
And you might just find your muse, or passion, or better yet, your audience.