To Cover or Not to Cover: Inside the Pomplamoose Dilemma

/ Apr 8, 2014

pomplamoose image

As a band that writes original songs, covering other artists’ work to gain recognition can be a frustrating endeavor. Pomplamoose, made up of couple Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte, explained this frustration to Rhett & Link on “Ear Biscuits.”

With nearly 400,000 YouTube subscribers under their belt, Pomplamoose now laments the use of “iTunes Top Ten” to achieve success. However, back in 2009 when the couple posted their first hit cover on YouTube (Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”), people weren’t covering songs like they are today. “Covers were not a method [back then],” Jack explained. “Now it’s calculated,” and people are covering the top 10 songs on iTunes purely as a tactic to get views.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about popularity from the perspective of internet trending. Also, Jack learned something very important about SEO and covering artists when he typed “The Beatles” into YouTube one day. The first hit to pop up was not The Beatles, as one might expect, but a singer/songwriter for whom Jack had actually produced a record. “The system is optimized for SEO,” Jack described his reluctant realization. “We all know how the algorithms work and ignoring them is honestly just shooting yourself in the foot.”

In spite of this internet truism, Pomplamoose (and Jack especially) professed plenty of guilt surrounding their cover songs. In order to get around the feeling like they’re selling out, the band makes sure to keep their covers unique to themselves. “We don’t take a song and not think about how to re-harmonize and restructure it and present it in a different way,” Nataly explained.

Still tired of being referred to as the “YouTube cover artist sensation Pomplamoose,” the couple plans to start releasing more originals along with their covers. A strategic balance of oldie and current hit covers with said originals should keep people tuned into their channel without being thrown off by a departure from what they’re used to (like this video of a Pharrell Williams mashup).

Jack did admit to Rhett & Link, “If you don’t at least acknowledge the system, then you write beautiful songs that nobody ever hears.” For more wise words on gaining internet fame while maintaining artistic integrity, listen to the Pomplamoose interview on “Ear Biscuits.”

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