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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cover that Book?

Copyrights: Literature vs. Music

Okay, I got a bone to pick this week with the music industry. And I think I make a good case - perhaps a great case. Or, maybe, it will just come off as whining. Let's get to it.

You will recall that last week I told you about my great idea for rewriting Hemingway's Old Man and The Sea. I'm going to change a few names, move it from Cuba to Bayfield, Wisconsin and let it roll. Mine will be titled, The Old Fart and the Lake. If you didn't read that post, click here.

But wait, that makes me a thief (or at least a hack)

If I don't change it enough, I violate Copyright Laws. At best, people will yawn and laugh at me. And that's not the reputation I am seeking.

And this is where my problem begins...

First off - I LOVE music covers. I love song covers, I love cover groups - I just love it all. Hey, I stopped and listened to Neil Dynamite at the MN State Fair several years ago. He was actually pretty darn good.

And who among us doesn't love a good (or even bad) Elvis impersonator? "Honeymoon in Vegas" style.

Here's OneRepublic with their hit Counting Stars:

I really like the song. I like the music, the lyrics, and even the video. (Though can someone tell me what the crocodile represents...please?)

Now while you are on YouTube, go ahead and search for covers on Counting Stars. Go on, do it now; I'll wait for you right here.

Results? About 100,000+. And some are quite impressive.

Alex Goot, Kurt Schneider, and Chrissy Costanza - 39 million+ views
Cimorelli - 10 million+
Christina Grimmie - 8 million+
Gardiner Sisters - 2.5 million+
MattyB - 8 million+

And the list goes on

My point: None of these cover groups wrote this music, or the lyrics. Each puts their own small spin on it (Cimorelli cleans up the lyrics, and Gardiner Sisters slow it down), but none are overly original.


With both me and the music industry. Fine with me because I love covers. Fine for the industry because OneRepublic gets more exposure (and is monetized from YouTube). By the way, the original version of the song by the group has more than 829 million views on YouTube.

Cimorelli, for instance, has more than 3 million subscribers on their YouTube channel - built almost exclusively on covers. They have a number of original songs now, they do tour North America and Europe, but their original popularity comes from covering other hit songs. Written and recorded by someone else first. 

And just to be clear - I have NO problem with that.

Let's return to the world of the written word

Old Fart and the Lake will most likely never see the light of day (and that's a good thing in soooooo many ways). Primarily, I will never get permission to "cover" the classic tale in the way I'd like to. Honestly I don't even know where to start. Maybe I'll look up Hemingway in the local phone book and see if anyone is related.

Let's say, in a different vein, that I want to do a knock off of Hugh Howey's smash Wool. Now, there is some fan-fiction already out there in this series, and some of it is even fairly decent. But that's not what I want to do as an author. I want to be original.

In music, one can use covers to get their name out to the public. It's worked many times for many people (Christina Grimmie springs to mind). 

The same does not hold true when it comes to literature. Here, the Copyright Laws are more strictly enforced. Plus, there's no YouTube for writers. 

If you want to make it big in the writing business (and please feel free to define "big" however you would like) you need to be original. Even if there are only seven plot lines running around out there, as some claim.

Others will tell you, "It's all already been written. Anything you do from this point forward is merely cheap imitations." BullCrap! Double BullCrap!!

Get out there, write something. Dream of something wild and crazy to create. You can, as the saying goes, JUST DO IT!

As for me, I am almost finished with a new manuscript entitled 2085. If you can't see the parallel yet, it's okay: (Hint - I am a Dystopian author). I'll have more to say about it in the coming months. Look for it sometime either later this year or early 2016.

Until next week, beat the summer heat with a great read!

e a lake