This is an excerpt from Holiday Music: A Guide to Copyrights, Mechanical Licenses, and Christmas Songs. To download the whole PDF for free, click HERE.

How to make a classic holiday tune your own.

One challenge with putting out a holiday single is how to inject your personality and musical style into a Yuletide favorite without mangling it beyond recognition or sounding like the other hundred versions of the same song. Here’s some advice from other musicians:

“A unique musical arrangement can be your greatest asset. Don’t be afraid to compose away from the traditional melody for a moment within the song. Something as simple as a few extra chords or a key change can add spice to the eggnog. You can always return to the traditional melody after a few measures.” – Daniel G. Benes

“Find the essential melodies that define a song, and keep them intact. Then break the song down to its basics and – using them as building blocks – re-create the song as you would any of your own. Organically, the song will take on a feel that’s comfortable for you, reflects your style and musical personality, and ends up being different without your consciously trying to deviate from the original.” – Andre Calilhanna, Hijack

“One effective method of ‘owning’ a cover song is to move outside your genre element when selecting the original. Are you in a metal band? Cover a pop song. Play in a bluegrass ensemble? Cover a hip hop tune. The juxtaposition of your musical style against the song’s original inherent genre can result in a truly unique performance.” – Mike Gavigan, Escape Route

So, what do you think makes an awesome Christmas cover song? Feel free to comment in the section below.

Sell your holiday song on Facebook, iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Spotify, and more!