How to Record a High-Quality Cover Song

There’s more to uploading song covers than simply picking your favorite song and recording yourself singing it. To showcase your best abilities, you have to pay attention to the details of the planning stage.

The following five steps will ensure that you put out your best sound.

1. Find your vocal range.

Before you even decide what song to cover, you should first figure out what your vocal range is. Are you a bass? A tenor? Alto? Soprano? This will work as a guideline for you as you prepare to choose songs and arrange them. If you’re an alto, you probably won’t sound your best trying to squeeze out those high notes.

So, you can either choose a song with a register that matches your range, or you can pitch the music higher or lower to better fit your range. This way, you will definitely sound good in the recording.

This is a great test to find your vocal range!

2. Figure out the instrumental track.

After choosing a song to cover, you should figure out the instrumental track. Do you plan to download a karaoke/instrumental version online, or would you like to play the music on your own instrument? After deciding, you should tweak the pitch to better fit your vocal range.

If you plan to use a downloaded track, you can use music software programs to pitch the song higher or lower if needed. If you plan to play the song on your own (e.g. on the piano or guitar), shift the key higher or lower accordingly. ( has plenty of guitar tabs at different pitches available for free download).

The following is a karaoke track of John Legend’s “All Of Me,” but it is pitched higher for a female vocalist. You can use these uploads as guides, or you can play the songs yourself.

3. Practice.

Before recording, do vocal warmups and practice the song a few times. Sing the song with the original singer’s voice to practice your pitching (unless you changed the pitch of the original song), then sing it one time through with just the instrumental.

Keep singing like this a few times, and record yourself for the last couple runs. Take a few minutes to listen to and critique yourself, practicing specific segments of the song that sound rough.

4. Record.

After warming up and practicing, you can start recording the vocals. Whether you are using a professional microphone or simply your phone, make sure to just record your own voice. An easy way to do this is to listen with earphones to the instrumental while using your recording device to record your singing using a different set of earphones. Record your vocals a few more times, and feel free to add riffs and ornaments. Later on you can choose your favorite version.

Once you’ve recorded the vocals, you can prepare the instrumental track. If you plan on using a downloaded one, you can go straight to layering the vocal track onto this instrumental track by using programs such as GarageBand or Logic Pro X. If you plan on playing the instrument yourself, do the same process as for recording vocals. Then, combine the two tracks using the previously mentioned programs and prepare to upload.

5. Upload.

Most people upload their covers first onto Soundcloud, then onto YouTube. Posting covers on Soundcloud is a bit less nerve-wracking because you only upload the vocals, whereas on YouTube you should upload a video of yourself singing live.

If you truly want to upload successful, high-quality covers onto social media platforms, you must take the extra effort outlined in all of the above steps. In doing so, you will show the world your best sound and your wholehearted dedication to your music.

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Angelina Hue enjoys listening to a wide variety of music, from instrumental movie scores to alternative indie to Korean pop music. She also likes to make short films and write fiction.