Cover songs are hugely popular with fans on YouTube, especially when the performer has a great voice or a unique take on a famous song (or both). But the reason so many indie artists have been covering famous songs is because it helps them reach new fans and helps to increase their SEO.
What’s SEO? Search engine optimization is the process of improving the visibility of a website in search engines. Basically it’s the process of getting to the top of a (Google, Bing, etc.) search. There are a number of ways you can increase your SEO; things like optimizing your website to include certain keywords and making sure you have a number of external links or back links to your site.
That’s where YouTube comes in.
Discovery: If you’re posting a cover song of, say, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” you’ll have a lot of “natural” traffic to that video because people will be looking for the original song and, in the process, “discover” yours.
Traffic: If you include a link to your website in the info box below your video, you’ll drive traffic to your website. This will help increase your site traffic and (hopefully) your search ranking, as well.
A few notes about copyright/licensing: this post pertains only to your rendition of a song. Additionally, recording your version of someone else’s song and posting it on YouTube, where anyone can watch it for free, is a gray area. YouTube (likely) has a blanket license from BMI and ASCAP for this purpose. But, there is a chance (if someone complains) that your video will be removed at any time.
To sell your recorded version of someone else’s song, you must purchase a mechanical license.
What do you think? Have you posted any cover songs on YouTube? Did you get a lot of traffic from it?