What Makes a Song a Hit?

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This article was written in the point of view of Grammy-nominated songwriter Jason Blume and includes tips on what will make or break your song.

When I worked in the A & R Department at a major record label, and later, as production coordinator for albums by hit artists, in many cases, my ears were the first barrier that had to be crossed when a song was submitted for those acts. Almost all the songs I screened had been written by pro writers and submitted by their publishers. There were no “bad” songs; every one of them checked off all the right boxes. They were constructed using the most popular song structures and forms, they had lyrics that made sense, rhymes in the expected places, melodies that were memorable, and in most instances, well produced demos.

I also reviewed submissions of artists who were seeking record deals. In those cases, the comment I most frequently forwarded to my boss was, “Good voice, good look, no songs.” To clarify, of course, there were songs, but no songs that felt like potential hits; no songs that I believed would launch an artist’s career or demand that listeners take notice.

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