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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5 Tips for Strengthening Your Song’s Melodic Hooks

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Melodic hooks can be the heartbeat of a song. These tasty bits of ear candy can make the difference between an “almost” – and a life-changing hit. They can be instrumental or sung and can occur in any section of a song – the intro, verse, chorus, pre-chorus, post-chorus, bridge, or outro. Catchy musical phrases hook in your listeners and keep them on the proverbial line. They can occur in multiple sections of a given song (i.e., a verse, a pre-chorus, and chorus) and although it is not typical, there can be more than one musical and/or vocal hook per section. But they are most frequently found in choruses and post-choruses.

Ideally, unforgettable hooks pop into our heads–or pour out of our keyboards or guitars–spontaneously. But when they don’t, we can apply craft to create these extra-memorable melodic moments and add additional hooks to maximize our songs’ chances for success.

Let’s look at five ways to embellish our melodies and help them burn into listeners’ brains.

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Advice for Moving Up and Not Sliding Off a Popular Playlist

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Whether it’s A-List: Hip-Hop, mint, Pop Hitlist, or the feeder playlists that help drive them, editorial curation continues to transform music for both artists and fans. (The staff experts and everyday users of Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Tidal, SoundCloud have generated billions of collections between them.)  

Landing on a major playlist creates awareness and engagement around tracks. Previously, we’ve talked about the best tips to get added to a playlist… but what happens after that? Is there a way to help your tracks rise and stay on a playlist longer?

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