Songwriters and performers recently started to find out what their work is worth. Bruce Springsteen sold his music catalog to Sony Music Entertainment for $550 million. Noble prize winner Bob Dylan sold his for $300 million to Universal Music Group. At the time, Lucian Grainge, the chief executive of the Universal Music Group, said “It’s no secret that the art of songwriting is the fundamental key to all great music, nor is it a secret that Bob is one of the very greatest practitioners of that art.” The work of both artists has been used over and over again by others.
Some songs are even written by one artist for another. The Bee Gees were legends for this. They wrote, “Islands in the Stream” for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, and “Heartbreaker” for Dionne Warwick. These were on top of a massive career of singing their own songs which include “Saturday Night Fever” and “More Than A Woman”. The Bee Gees are among the great examples of artists who made money in two ways.
Sometimes, an artist’s music was made more famous when it was covered. “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan was covered by Jimi Hendrix and became a massive hit for the guitar legend. “Twist and Shout” is originally by the Isley Brothers but popularly associated with The Beatles.
To find the most covered artist, 24/7 Tempo reviewed SecondHandSongs database. We included the overall number of covers for each artist’s songs, the number of songs covered, and added the most covered song. We occasionally used editorial discretion and listed the second-most covered song if the first was instrumental. Data was retrieved November 2021.
Many songs that are covered over and over again are from classic singer-songwriters like Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and Louis Armstrong — all among the top 10 most covered artists. New artists take these classic songs, which were already performed in very special ways, and put their own spin on them. And while Presley may not top the list with the most covers, the King of Rock and Roll does sit near the top.
The Beatles are at the top of the list with the most covers. Many many artists over the years, from all over the world, covered as many as 200 Beatles songs, with a total of 20,185 covers.
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