Cover song boots student into prime time

You could say it was an Israeli soccer commercial that kicked off an international music career for Gareth Bush. You’d be surprised to hear the fourth-year King’s University College Criminology student is hoping a local fan base will pick up as a result.

Bush, a local musician, recently recorded an acoustic cover of the will.i.am-Britney Spears track Scream & Shout, posting it to his YouTube page on Dec. 27. Shortly after, he started to notice comments posted from Israel, with some indicating the cover had been picked up by an Israeli television channel, Sport One, using it alongside the original in a soccer commercial.

“(This) is their equivalent of TSN. The first thing that went through my mind was ‘this is the coolest thing of all time,’” Bush said, adding some fans had sent him recordings of the commercial so he could see it for himself.

He was surprised, even though the cover tune had already started to go viral, thanks to some strategizing.

“Thousands of people upload covers on YouTube every day. To get noticed, especially with no base following, is almost impossible. You have to do something that’s going to be looked up quite a bit,” he explained.

Bush was taken back when he first heard the song; he liked it, thought it was an odd style and had an idea in mind to make it his own.

“One of the reasons I wanted to do that song was because when you hear it, it sounds really difficult to make it into an acoustic version. There were much fewer covers of this song, when compared to other Top 10 hits, so the odds of getting noticed were much higher,” Bush said.

And the cover did get noticed, getting more and more hits online, and getting airplay not just in Israel, but also nationwide in the United States, Germany and on the home front in Quebec – everywhere but London, it seems.

“It’s funny how I’ve taken off in Israel, but not here,” he said.

Bush, who plays in local pubs and writes original tunes as well, hopes the attention his cover is getting will translate into a growing local fan base.

If you’re anything like the young musician, you’re probably wondering if the cover’s success from its unsolicited use in a commercial could lead to some financial gain.

Nope, it can’t. Because he didn’t get the original artist’s permission to record a cover and use it for other subsequent purposes, Bush won’t see a penny from the use of his song in the Sport One soccer commercial.

“I contacted SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada), the Canadian copyright agency, and you need a license and the songwriter’s permission to publish and make money off it,” Bush said.

He could have paid for a license and permission ahead of time, but no one usually expects to make money off cover songs anyway.

“I’m OK with not getting money – look at all the press I’m getting from it and it’s a great story to tell your grandkids.”

Bush, who has been writing original songs for the past six years, recently recorded an EP, This Is For Keeps, with help from an acquaintance at the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology. He is now focusing his attention on promoting the CD while hoping to go to graduate school and study broadcast journalism.