My name is Jim Ivins and I am an independent musician in New York City. I, like everyone else, am still very much adrift trying to figure out this new tech-driven music industry that has left everyone in the game baffled. I am all about new ideas and innovation and DIY and people trying to figure out the best way to get noticed and even…dare I say it…make money in this business, however, there is one route that WAY too many people are taking that I have a MAJOR problem with. It falls into the same category as my problem with American Idol, The Voice, The X Factor, America’s Pre-Teens Have Singing Talent Icon Starmaker Money Group Band Artist Bonanza, etc. – YouTube cover videos.
This glorification of people singing other artist’s material is in my opinion the most ridiculous trend to take over the industry and is one I wish with all my heart would stop. After you make it big, you wanna throw a cover song or two into your set? By all means! I don’t dislike cover songs. But breaking through on the strength of ONLY performing covers? That to me is just wrong.
I’ve since taken them down, but about 3 or 4 years ago, when this fad was just starting to pick up steam, I actually did a few YouTube covers. HARDLY to the degree that you see it now with elaborate music videos and pro-quality studio recordings, these were merely a few songs I thought were cool (not what’s hot at the moment) and it was just me and a guitar. I got some good reactions to these but after about 6 of them, I decided it was stupid, didn’t understand how it advanced the ball and stopped.
There are people who think I am CRAZY to have done this. People have actually told me I am never going to make it unless I start cranking out YouTube covers. Wanna know what I think about this? FUCK. THAT. Why in 2013 am I just expected to play ball like this? To me, doing this kind of thing basically broadcasts to the world that I have nothing to say and nothing to offer. The usual response to this is – Jim, who cares? Do your originals but use these YouTube videos to get people in the door. Really? Is that it? Let me ask you something – when was the last time you went to see a Guns N’ Roses tribute band – nay – just a regular ol’ cover band that plays 90’s hits and thought, “you know, hearing this Third Eye Blind song is cool and all, but when are they gonna bust out some originals?!” Bottom line – I don’t believe anyone who has gotten to know someone based on a string of cover videos is going to care about their originals.
Here is the last example I’ll use, as it is the inspiration for this piece. The band in question will remain anonymous but a friend of mine recently took me to their show. This was a sold out show at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre. Hardly Madison Square Garden but it’s still a pretty decent size place that someone like me would kill to headline. Again, while I will not name the band, they got famous because of a YouTube cover video they made for maybe the most ubiquitous song of 2012.
I knew that they were definitely going to bust out this particular song, as it’s how they got to do this in the first place, but a tiny little part of me believed maybe they wouldn’t. I hoped they wouldn’t. They did. Along with probably 3 or 4 more covers. After these songs they applauded the crowd for singing along and said that it was blowing them away, etc. Well…yeah, of course the crowd is going crazy for these songs – these are hits! And while the crowd of course was into everything that was happening on stage, as this was a headlining band, by far the biggest crowd reaction came for the cover songs. I had a fine time but just couldn’t respect anything that was happening. This band gets to headline large venues because they covered other people’s songs, not because they wrote some great ones.
In conclusion, there is almost nothing that bugs me more than someone saying “oh ___ I am a HUGE fan!” about someone who only does YouTube covers. As someone who has dreams of people saying this about something I actually wrote, this kind of exchange cheapens that dream. And really are any of these videos better than the originals? Most of the time, let’s be honest, no. So if it takes me years longer to break through than people who have gotten quick label and/or management deals because of their YouTube videos, so be it. I’ll know that I did it on the strength of MY creativity and not someone else’s. So people of the Internet, I beg you, leave the classics alone, pick up a damn guitar and write a song.
New York City pop rockers The Jim Ivins Band have been making a name for themselves since their 2008 inception, scoring rave reviews from publications like The Aquarian and Absolutepunk.net, features on TV shows like MTV’s The Real World, sharing the stage with national acts like Rooney, Parachute, Carolina Liar, The Rocket Summer, Cracker, The Ataris, Mae, He Is We & Every Avenue, and showcasing at festivals like the 2013 SXSW Music Festival and the 2009 Miami Music Festival. In addition to the live setting, the band has associated itself with top names in the studio as well, working with the likes of Grammy Award winners John Seymour (U2, Santana, Dave Matthews Band) and Michael Congdon (Chris Brown), as well as Mark Santangelo (Neon Trees, The Weeknd, Neil Diamond) and The Early November’s Ace Enders. Says Skope Magazine, “whether it’s rock you crave or pop goodness that you desire, [The Jim Ivins Band] will satisfy all of your musical needs.”
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