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Hit Song Formula.


Nunstummy
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I argue there is a formula to composing a hit song, or at least there is a checklist of factors the song must contain to optimize the chance of a hit. Opponents tell me I’m crazy, but I have spent many years analyzing why certain songs are so successful. I’m not the only one either. Vox did some Earworm videos years ago on the clues for why certain songs are so popular. The biggest issue for song writers and producers is putting their own taste and likes ahead of the objective of “a hit”. I can compose/produce a hit song, but I probably won’t like it {lol}

 

So... what’s the formula for composing or producing a hit?

 

Is there a formula, or is it inspiration?

Logic 10.7.3 / MacOS Monterey / 2021 MacBook M1 Max w 32GB RAM, 4TB SSD / Novation LaunchKey 49 MK3/ Novation LaunchPad X / UA Apollo Twin X / MOTU 8Pre / Adam T7V pair + Adam sub / Inspiration

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If you have been researching this topic for years, as you say, you would have found it already, don't you think ? So what are your findings ?

 

All the marketing and distribition stuff aside, find something unique that appeals to the masses. If you can't, look at something unique that appeals to the masses, and copy it as quick and as close as you can without getting sued. If it is something you created, and it was successful, carry on iterating it.

Christian Obermaier
Contact me for private Logic Consulting, Training, Troubleshooting via Skype, Zoom or Teamviewer
1 x MacPro 6core 2010 24Gb RAM, 2 x MacBookPro i7 2012 16Gb RAM, OSX.14.6. Mojave, Logic X.5.1

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Fair enough.

 

I’ve been a performer and a composer all my life, but I also started and ran a computer consulting company for 25 years. Much of my marketing experience comes from the software world. As is the case for a lot of us, composing a hit has not been our prime objective. Instead we write and record our own material.

Logic 10.7.3 / MacOS Monterey / 2021 MacBook M1 Max w 32GB RAM, 4TB SSD / Novation LaunchKey 49 MK3/ Novation LaunchPad X / UA Apollo Twin X / MOTU 8Pre / Adam T7V pair + Adam sub / Inspiration

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  • 2 weeks later...

"If creativity, and market success, were deterministic," then I'd be writing this post from a very-far-away island.

 

And – we'd all be flat broke, because everybody would be doing it.

 

But:

"Surprise me." Whether it's a lyric or a harmony or a trick of a phrase or a sonata.

"Develop that surprise, with a nice mixture of repetition and new surprises.

"Tell a Story." ... Poetically! (You've got five lines to work with. Good luck ...)

"We are here now, en-ter-tain us!™"

• Fill your "catalog" to the brim and don't stop writing.

Mike Robinson - "I wanna quit being a computer consultant and become a composer and arranger at age fifty-nevermind."
Logic Pro X, MacBook Pro, 88-key MIDI controller.

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"If creativity, and market success, were deterministic," then I'd be writing this post from a very-far-away island.

 

And – we'd all be flat broke, because everybody would be doing it.

 

But:

"Surprise me." Whether it's a lyric or a harmony or a trick of a phrase or a sonata.

"Develop that surprise, with a nice mixture of repetition and new surprises.

"Tell a Story." ... Poetically! (You've got five lines to work with. Good luck ...)

"We are here now, en-ter-tain us!™"

• Fill your "catalog" to the brim and don't stop writing.

 

Mark Ronson did it with Bruno Mars on “Uptown Funk”

 

Success with a formula isn’t rare because “there’s no such thing” but because it’s near impossible to get creative people to commit to a formula. Let’s also bake the cake with a certain minimum level of talent and musical proficiency. Gathering the ingredients is no easy task.

Logic 10.7.3 / MacOS Monterey / 2021 MacBook M1 Max w 32GB RAM, 4TB SSD / Novation LaunchKey 49 MK3/ Novation LaunchPad X / UA Apollo Twin X / MOTU 8Pre / Adam T7V pair + Adam sub / Inspiration

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Bruce Springsteen apparently used a formula. I worked with an engineer in New York that told me Bruce would show-up to the studio with dozens and dozens of songs, most of which were low quality. Only by recording them, analyzing them and repeatedly listening to his work, would his producers and management uncover a song worthy of being finished and released. Genius? I don’t think so. Just hours and hours of trial and error. Rare dedication to a difficult task.

Logic 10.7.3 / MacOS Monterey / 2021 MacBook M1 Max w 32GB RAM, 4TB SSD / Novation LaunchKey 49 MK3/ Novation LaunchPad X / UA Apollo Twin X / MOTU 8Pre / Adam T7V pair + Adam sub / Inspiration

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  • 2 months later...

Lorde has written a number of songs that are brilliant, unique, and global mega-hits.

 

Lorde: “A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck.”

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Lorde has written a number of songs that are brilliant, unique, and global mega-hits.

 

Lorde: “A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck.”

 

I confess, I never thought “the formula” would include WAP by Cardi B. I guess there are exceptions.

Logic 10.7.3 / MacOS Monterey / 2021 MacBook M1 Max w 32GB RAM, 4TB SSD / Novation LaunchKey 49 MK3/ Novation LaunchPad X / UA Apollo Twin X / MOTU 8Pre / Adam T7V pair + Adam sub / Inspiration

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Lorde has written a number of songs that are brilliant, unique, and global mega-hits.

 

Lorde: “A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck.”

 

I confess, I never thought “the formula” would include WAP by Cardi B. I guess there are exceptions.

 

I presume you mean that WAP is quite poor pop? I certainly think so. Most pop is pretty dumb, always has been. That's why I think Lorde suggests, you have to have reverence for great songwriting. You have to love it, be into it, groove on it. Be awestruck by the greatest examples you can find. Then create.

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