Should Covering Songs Be Illegal? Dr. Luke, Ke$ha, Adam Lambert Weigh In
Prince thinks an artist's work shouldn't be available for reinterpretation, but today's hitmakers are torn.
Last week, Prince told George Lopez that he thinks covering songs without an artist’s permission and blessing should be illegal. “Covering music means your version doesn't exist anymore,” said the purple one. “A lot of times, people think I'm doing Sinead O'Connor's song or Chaka Khan's song when in fact I wrote those songs.”
Prince brought up record companies’ compulsory licensing law, which, he told the late-night host, “allows artists to take your music at will without your permission... That doesn't exist in any other art form, be it books, movies. There's only one version of Law & Order. There's several versions of 'Kiss' and 'Purple Rain'."
What do other artists and music makers think of Prince’s point? THR asked at Wednesday’s ASCAP Pop Awards, which recognized some of 2010’s biggest hits.
Dr. Luke: “I have the most respect in the world for Prince, but I think there are more important things to be worrying about. I think people should be able to record songs that they want to record. [Not liking a cover of your song] happens all the time. You get over it and take it as a compliment. Whether people like your work or want to make fun of it, it’s good.”
Taio Cruz: “Prince probably doesn't sneer at the royalty checks coming in from all the various cover merchants. But I know what he means, because sometimes someone does a really bad cover. And because it's art… if Picasso paints a picture, the way that he painted it is the way he wants people to see it, not someone else's interpretation where it doesn't look exactly right. So I get both arguments.”
Ke$ha: “There is some truth to that, because people can obviously massacre something you hold very sacred. But one of the reasons why the American flag is so evident in my live show is because I really stand for freedom of speech. And like with my wardrobe, I feel you should be able to sing, speak, and perform what you want to. A lot of covers I've heard of my songs, on paper, you wouldn’t think they’d sound good, but they blow me away. I was recently sent a cover of 'Tik Tok' that a young Japanese girl did all on an iPad and iPhone, electronically and live, and it sounded so incredible. It was beautiful.”
Adam Lambert: “I understand where he’s coming from. I mean, he's Prince. I think he can get his way. But there is something to that, because as artists and writers, we create these songs and we have this passion and vision for it. Then the minute someone covers it, you run the risk of it either being great or falling apart.”
Rod Stewart: “He's got a good point there, but I don’t know... I haven't thought about it, I'd have to give that great consideration.”