What is a cover?

A cover is a song that is performed by a performer different from the original performer. A cover must be published on a release?.

Example: I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself by The White Stripes was originally performed by Tommy Hunt. The cover was released on the White Stripes album Elephant.

An artist however can use different performer names during his career, we call these performer names aliases. Under the above rule an artist can thus cover the same song twice, as long as it 's under a different alias. Also, we add the condition that both covers can't be the same tracks.

Cover Hierarchy

If one considers a "cover cluster", i.e. a group of covers based on the same song, there is a cover hierarchy, not a flat structure. Say cover C covers original O, but makes substantial changes to the concept of the song. (This usually implies there are additional credits given to C) If later a cover D is made, which copies the song as altered in C, then it is a cover of C, not of O.

Example: Comme d'habitude by Claude Fran├žois was translated into My Way by Paul Anka. The version of My Way by Frank Sinatra is a cover of the Paul Anka version, because it uses his translated lyrics.

What is the difference between covers, partial covers and samples?

Use the following table to find out what type of cover song you are dealing with:

Does the new song use the original track of the original?
Yes No
Does the new song copy a part of the original or the entire song? A Part Sample Partial Cover
The Whole Song Remix Cover

Special cases

Backing tracks

For some labels (think of Motown for example) it was quite common to record a backing track by the label home band, and have different artists sing over this backing track. Technically these songs are both covers (because of the new singing) and samples (because of the use of the backing track). However, to keep things simple we index these as covers, explaining the sample relation in the comment box.

Virtual duets

A virtual duet is the type of song where an artist A covers a song by an artist B, but with using samples of the original song, presenting it like a duet. Technically this is both a cover and a sample. Again, to keep things simple we index these as covers, explaining the sample relation in the comment box.

< What is an original? | Guidelines index | What is a partial cover? >

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