I'm pretty new to recording, and I am not a very good or inspired writer, so I find myself doing a lot of covers of songs I like so that I can learn more about the process, and learn more about certain musical techniques, and get inside the heads of artists that are gods to me. So that is the early phase of my journey to become good at recording and become a better musician.
My hope is that by breaking it down, deconstructing how a song is done, and then reconstructing it from scratch, using my own tracks, I can learn a lot. I also figure that if the song comes out sounding all lumpy, that I can't blame the song or the original recording; I then have to figure out why I made it so lumpy.
I use that characterization because recording a song is a lot like making mashed potatoes; when you are first making them, they are lumpy, and it takes a lot of elbow grease to make them smooth. Seems to be the same with my music; it sounds pretty lumpy when I get all the tracks playing together for the first time, and then I work on it (forever) until it hopefully finally sounds a lot better. Un-lumpy.
And once through that process if it sounds reasonably similar to the original, then maybe that is a mark of progress. Doing a cover removes the large unknown regarding whether a song itself is good or not from the equation. Its already good; the question is can I record a version from scratch and make it sound good. Or can I record it and make it sound somewhat like the original. This also gives me a framework to try different ideas; a clav in place of a funk guitar, for instance.
So its a little like I am using the existing creation of a real artist (thank you, Herbie Hancock) as training wheels for me to learn a craft. That all seems to be working, to an extent.
Now, if I wanted someone's advice here on the forums, could I post a track (which will likely be a cover) to get feedback (hopefully constructive)?
Your thoughts are appreciated.
I think you'd be okay to do this tom - particularly as a new or novice recorder -- your cover would fall under fair use as part of a recording learning module. On my website there's an early article on the process I used getting into recording and I too started with a covers - I think that's the norm -- I think it accelerates the learning process - but don't overlook original expression as well. There's also lots of places like Reddit etc that have forums particularly devotes to this kind of thing. I think the trick is to find where you feel most at home or where you identify with the mission of the site or forum and start contributing. Just read the posting guidelines and keep a good spirit and you should be fine.
I think that what you are describing falls under the fair use act, in that it's being used in an educational scenario... but it's best to get Chris to weigh in first. ( @audiokid )
I've posted a cover version or two here myself over the past few years, always for the purpose of engineering critique and never in a promotional way... and I never faced any objection to it, and they are still there, no one deleted them for a TOS violation....but looking back now, I probably should have checked with the boss first to make sure it was okay.
FWIW, I think it's a great learning tool. It used to be quite common in recording schools. When I was studying formally ( and privately) my instructor had me do this exercise several times, and I found it to be invaluable as a learning exercise.
I've paged Chris to get him to weigh in on this...
I'm not too worried about it. Thanks for asking.