Cover songs on digital download services
Derek Sivers from CD Baby has some sorta depressingly obvious news: cover songs sell the best on the digital download services. Derek claims the top selling independent artists are ones that do covers of well-known songs that people search for, therefore stumbling onto the new artists who have covered them.
So now, I'm advising musicians to do a creative cover song on their next album. Find something that hasn't been done TOO much. (Example: CD Baby has 762 versions of "Amazing Grace". Really!) Find something that you can add your unique twist to. Then make sure to include it on a full-length album, so that people who discover you by that song can get turned on to your own music, and buy the whole collection.
Derek's probably 100% right that that's what an aspiring artist should do, but now the idea of doing covers kinda creeps me out.