Creating unique ear worms with Re-Recordings of famous tracks (T&F Insights)

Music provides a shorthand for emotion. It has the ability to bypass our analytical thinking and connect directly to our feelings, so it’s no surprise that brands place importance not only on the way their films look, but also how they sound. The use of famous songs in commercials in particular has been popular and effective for decades. Not only have they proven their popularity across different demographics and psychographics, they also provide positive images transfers such as premium value, cultural relevance, familiarity, heritage and more. Not only that, but in simple music terms, they make any commercial a lot more memorable.

On the flipside, the popularity of famous songs doesn’t come without risks. There is a chance other brands, potentially even direct competitors, have used the song before. Additionally, in the case of brand new hits, there is a risk that if the music is not tied in strategically then you simply remind your audience that they really like that song, blending in with hundreds of plays at the same time.

Standing on the shoulder of giants

Cover versions of famous songs used to be a smart way to save money by only licensing the publishing rights, but in recent years this has developed into a new pop culture phenomenon and provides the best of both worlds. 

Popular songs have always been revived by artists of later generations as a smart way to land a new hit based on an existing earworm. Many brands, most famously British retailer John Lewis, have adopted this strategy and managed to create outstanding cover versions of iconic tracks performed by hot and current artists. The result: a new hit that reaches different generations in different ways and will forever be tied to the brand that instigated the creation of it.  

Best practices

We have had our own success creating unique cover versions of famous tracks that became popular as a standalone songs, and have identified some best practices for re-imagining a popular tune.

#1 – Presentation

The original sound of a famous songs is hard to shake off, but absolutely necessary when striving for a unique version. When presenting your idea internally and deciding which tracks to consider for a demo production, researching existing covers closer to the mood you need can help you open your mind on the potential of it being re-imagined.

#2 – Talent

Using performing artists are more challenging to brief than a media composer, but it is essential both for setting an authentic tone, premium appeal and having a launch pad to release the song and allow it to have a life of its own. 

#3 – Timing

Negotiate the rights of your song choice(s) before producing, not all writers allow re-recordings (or advertising uses altogether)

#4 – Usage History

Ask the rights owner for a usage history and potential pending deals to avoid using a song that is overused or used by a competitor.

#5 – Full Length Version

Create a full version as soon as you have finalised the ad version and make it available across streaming portals once your commercial launches. If it’s an unbranded artist release, this typically does not require additional licenses, if the brand or campaign is referenced or provided on their website it might be subject to branded streaming/ download fees.

Feel free to get in touch if you would like to either research, negotiate or produce a unique cover version. 

About Us

We are a Music Supervision agency that handles the entire process from strategy, ideation, research, licensing and production. Below are some examples where we have produced and/or licensed cover versions of iconic hits.

Sony Bravia – More brilliance. More beauty. from Tracks & Fields on Vimeo.

Audi – Tilted World (WORLD) from Tracks & Fields on Vimeo.

OTTO – „Most Precious Gift“ Cyndi Lauper Choir Re-Recording from Tracks & Fields on Vimeo.

Raiffeisenbank – Respekt (CZ) from Tracks & Fields on Vimeo.

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