Your Facebook page is not a website

Great little article by CDBaby – yes they are flogging their hostbaby service and so it has a biased edge  – but the comments relate exactly to comments I make in my lectures about the need to develop a ‘base’ place that is yours.

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We all love Facebook – it’s an essential tool for self-promotion. But if you’re relying solely on social networks (like Facebook) for all your fan interactions, you’re missing out on
these essential benefits which only a dedicated site can offer:

Design Control
You don’t have a say in how Facebook looks, works, and changes. With your own
website, you can create an awesome design that suits your style.

Fan Relationships
When you have your own website and email signup form, YOU own the relationship
with your fans. On Facebook, you can only reach your fans if they’re regularly
checking Facebook.

User Experience
Facebook wants users to click on paid ads for smartphones, laptops, and blow
dryers. What do you want your fans to do? On your own site, you call the shots.

Your Own Dot Com
With your own website, you can pick your domain name (YourBand.com), collect
email addresses, blog, and sell music and merch right from your own digital
storefront.
You also get a more professional (non’standard’) email address option using your own domain name rather than hotmail, gmail or live for example
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What do you see as other advantages?
What about ability to direct sell (using paypal etc etc)?

So the goal is to have your social media sites direct people to your website and its ‘storefront to you’ the way you want it.

For more inquiries or contact us please go to www.pavmusic.com  (and please note, we are not web designers or domain hosts).

By the way as mentioned in other articles, if cant afford a full website/service – dont forget RerverbNation as an interim/middle step for what it offers for free (and especially the added paid modules).

Cheers,
Ian

 

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Before scheduling your album release, plan for the steps that lie between songwriting and disc manufacturing

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(An article by the guys at Echos/Discmakers that we have adapted and added to in parts)

Releasing a CD or EP is a big deal for any artist and the result of a lot of hard work and one of your best chances to earn ongoing revenue. You spend a lot of time writing, rehearsing, and recording — and that’s all just in the lead up to the manufacturing process.

So after all the rehearsing, recording, over dubbing, checking, editing, mixing, working out song orders, audio mastering, and starting to designing your package/look, there are the numerous music promotion and sales activities  – much of which may require your CD printing to be completed.
While it’s hard not to get excited and schedule your album release when you get to the music mixing phase, being patient and creating a long-term timeline will help you maximize your efforts rather than racing to meet a deadline.

As clients finish the production phase of a project, we start to feed out to them a list of things that now need to happen to maximize the opportunities for sales success and income flow (if we gave it at the start it might seem too daunting and also impact on the creative process – and getting the music/production right is essential).

To help with that next phase ‘after the music is done’ here is a little Album Release Checklist to get you thinking about things you might not have thought of while involved in the creative process.
Please note – this is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start in the planning.

1. Are you including any cover songs?
If your CD includes any songs written by another songwriter or artist, copyright law requires you get a mechanical license. Mechanical licenses are issued by the owner of the copyright (publishers, labels, estates, songwriters, composers) and can be obtained easily from collection houses (APRA/AMCOS in Australia, Limelight by Rightsflow, etc contact the one appropriate to your location). If you are doing an ‘exact replica’ (same arrangement, words etc just in your style) then most have a flat rate calculation. However, if you are changing any major elements (words, melody, using for a parody, etc) and it is not ‘public domain’, you have to get permission from the copyright holder/publisher and agree to the arrangement negotiated for use and adaption of the song.  Usually manufacturing companies cannot begin CD printing without your acquiring the proper licenses.

2. Have you copyrighted your songs?
As soon as you produce a copy of a song — including any recording, written transcription, or print-out of lyrics — your work is copyrighted. Still, it’s a good idea to register your work with the appropriate body in your territory.

3. Have you cleared your samples?
If your audio master contains any samples of previously recorded work, you are required to purchase a Master Use License and include proof-of-purchase with your project. If your project contains any material owned by a third-party (e.g. samples, loops), manufacturing companies cannot begin CD printing without your acquiring the proper licenses.

4. Who is doing your CD design?
Unless you, someone in your team, or someone you are hiring is an experienced (i.e. professional) designer, don’t try to do it on your own! Your album release represents all the hard work you’ve put into your music, and you’re competing against some pretty fantastic CD packaging art in the marketplace. If you have a graphic designer you’re working with, make sure he or she uses the correct CD template (often supplied by the place you will get the CD pressed) and that all your files and images are formatted correctly for print (even the right amount of ‘bleed’, etc).

5. Have you picked the right CD packaging for your album release?
Most CD packaging has lists of benefits and features that sets it apart — so take the time to choose the one that best suits your album release. ‘Digipaks’ offer a great opportunity to integrate interesting cover art, and is a “greener” alternative to ‘Jewel cases’ — which still remain the industry standard at this time. Digipaks can have as many as eight panels, and both packages offer printed booklets of up to 32 pages. ‘Eco-wallets’ also afford plenty of design and booklet options, and the ‘CD Jacket’ is a lightweight recycled stock slip sleeve that can still deliver a graphic punch. Take the time to pick the best one for you.

6. Is your timetable realistic?
Having a realistic plan in place is the first step on the road to success in planning an album release. Planning for delays might not sound sexy, but it could be the ticket to a well-run manufacturing and promotional launch of your CD. The rehearsal process usually takes longer than expected; recording, mixing, and music mastering rarely run precisely on schedule; and designing and manufacturing a CD sometimes requires back and forth between parties to make sure all the pieces are looking and sounding perfect. Managing the hiccups in the various creative processes will make for a smooth and stress-free run for you and your team.

Have more than one thing happening at a time may get you there sooner. For example, if you intend to include lyrics, thank yous, and liner notes in your album art, don’t wait until the last minute to draw it up — keep a running list going throughout the rehearsal and music recording process. If you plan to include a band photo (or other special shots) on the cover or in the album art, plan for it and have it completed well before you’re collecting your materials for CD manufacturing. Determine your album title and gather all the images you intend to include in the art ahead of time, as well.

7. Do you have permission to use that art?
It’s almost too easy to grab art from the Internet and claim it as your own — be sure NOT to do that for any image or piece of art to be included on your CD. Just like you need a Mechanical License to record and distribute someone else’s composition, you need the proper permissions for any piece of art you want on your CD. If you haven’t created or commissioned photographs, graphics, logos, and artwork, check and get the appropriate permission from the owner or make sure to purchase stock images or use royalty-free images.
(By the way – this is just, if not more, important to video footage you may use later in your music video!!!)

8. Did you pick/allow for your CD manufacturing turnaround time?
Some manufacturers/pressing houses have different delivery options and timetables (and pricing sometimes) – such as Economy, Standard, and Priority.

Some things can’t/shouldn’t be missed. You should allow time for the manufacturer to check and sign off as ‘manufacture ready’ the artwork and music master. Unless they are just ‘copying’, they should send you a proof of the artwork as laid out for their production run so you can do a final check of spelling and colours, etc. Then there is delivery/collection method and so much more.
 The number of days will vary based on your specific CD packaging, whether replication or duplication, their work load and delivery/collection method – but can range usually 1.5- 4 weeks delivered.

Which manufacturer/pressing house to chose?
Don’t leave this till the last minute. Do your investigation early and lock the choice in early and even tentatively book the job in (that way  – as long as close, you are ‘in the queue’ – the timing will be based on delivery back from your mastering people and graphic designers).  So check options, ask a number of people who have done it before (see who happy, who not, who goes back to the same ones etc etc), contact them and discuss/understand their operation, delivery turnaround times etc, get firm quotes – make a decision.

9. Did you proof all your materials?
When preparing your CD manufacturing order and collecting your raw materials (art files, audio master, forms) for CD printing, you can save yourself time and potential disaster by having a third-party (someone other than you) read everything and check for typos. Same goes for your audio master. The more thoroughly you check your materials for errors, the less chance of a costly or embarrassing mistake finding its way to your final product. Make sure your audio master sounds exactly the way you want it to, (including song order and song spacing). When you receive your design proofs, make sure to give everything another thorough check before giving your final approval.

10. Is your audio master mastered?
Regardless of what people may say to you – in our opinion – your album isn’t ready for commercial release until it’s been professionally mastered.
To us it is not an optional step — every album released on a major label is professionally mastered, but it’s a step that an independent artist may be tempted to skip. You’ve poured your heart into your music and recording, so why stop short of making your album sound the best that it can? Professional audio mastering brings important enhancements to your album (including but not limited to commercial and consistent overall volume, clarity and punch that may be missing in your mixes, balanced EQ, custom spacing or cross-fades and that extra shine and sparkle you hear in commercial mixes, etc)

We will often do some ‘pseudo mastering’ for a client near the end of a project so they can hear something close to what the final product will sound like – but we don’t profess to be mastering engineers. While many recording studios and platforms offer a music mastering component and our production studio may even have mastering software etc – it is rare that the mixing engineer is also the best place to master as well (unless you are on an extremely tight budget) – I know of only a couple who have the ears and gear I would trust for our clients (if they were mixing for us as well).

Hiring a third-party mastering engineer is often a good idea. Having another set of ears mastering your project with monitors and an environment specifically dedicated to audio mastering can make a huge difference in your final product.

11. Do you have everything prepared for manufacturing your CD?
You need five things when you send your manufacturer/pressing house your CD order:
1) your audio master on CD-R or ready to upload (DDP master etc),
2) your CD design files ready to mail in or upload,
3) payment,
4) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) documentation (proof of sign off if using someone else’s works), and
5) a signed order form.

12. Do you know how many CDs you want to order?
It’s a good idea to develop a budget before deciding what CD packaging and how many units you want to order. Based on the number of gigs you play a month, how many CDs you think you’ll sell at each gig, the amount of email and web promotions you’ll do, potential music downloads and online sales, figures from past CD sales, and any other relevant data you can assemble, come up with a sales figure for the number of CD’s you think you’ll sell. From there you can determine what your sales might add up to, what profit you want to keep, and how much you have to budget for disc manufacturing. There are other costs to consider (rehearsal, recording, promotion), and other potential sources of funding (savings, fan-funding, gig revenue), but this is a good exercise to go through to keep your efforts and spending based in the real world.
This will also let you determine if you are requesting replication or duplication in the manufacturing process, which does effect the cost per unit. Obviously the more CD’s you get produced the less per unit each one will cost – but you have to be able to afford (and sell) the larger quantity overall order.

Our best advice to you – as well as affordability …….Be realistic!!!!!! 
There are too many people we know who have ‘guessed’ or dreamed their CD sales potential – and 5 years later still have 2-300 (or more) CD’s from the original manufacturing run under their bed//in cupboards somewhere.  

13. Do you want a UPC code?
A Universal Product Code (also UPC or bar code) is a must for retail sales. Stores won’t sell products without them. You can get a bar code through industry suppliers, often through the ‘manufacturer’ where you will have your physical product pressed, or through your aggregator (CDBaby, Tunecore) if loading digitally or for online sales through them. Prices vary from (at the time of posting) $20 through CDBaby, to $100 with some pressing houses I know or more.
Once you have the barcode, then more stores (especially chains) will be willing to consider stocking your product, the aggregators and their partners can track (and if you register your bar code with SoundScan (which is free and easy to do) or similar, your sales records will be tracked by that industry leader or similar).

14. Do you have ISRC codes?
While the UPC or bar code is the recognition for your overall album, International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC) are the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording (each work). The ISRC provides the means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments and, in many territories, is increasingly becoming a tool in the fight against piracy. By identifying all sound and music video recordings that are released, regardless of the format that they are released in, the ISRC enables the tracking and tracing of these recordings through the music value chain…… it becomes a digital footprint for each of your works worldwide.

The ISRC codes are usually permanently encoded into your master for pressing can be added to the metadata/embedded into your MP3’s and supplied to aggregators for incorporating in their uploading process.

ISRC codes can be supplied by your publisher, some production houses (we arrange for our clients who want them) or through the local ISRC management body. Google search ISRC code supplier in your territory (for example, in Australia its ARIA).

15. Do you need promotional materials and is your online promotion ready?
Do you have your message, promotional ‘speel’ for the CD ready? Is there an angle, something unique, a message that you want to convey? And have you put that in words and images ready for the release?
Have you worked out your website, facebook, ReverbNation, email, etc ‘release look’ and have it in place ready to go?
Of course, not everything happens online, you know! Printed promotional material like stickers, flyers, full-color posters, and postcards can help you spread the word at gigs and on the street.  Soft copies of those can be emailed, sent out, uploaded as pics, etc

 

And then there is the ‘launch’ and the ongoing marketing and promotion …… mmmmm!

 Yes there is a lot to consider, arrange and do – but if you are spending the time, effort and resources to produce a commercial quality musical product in the first place – shouldn’t you support in a way that gives it the best chance of success (whatever that may mean to you).

 If you wish to discuss any of the above (or any other aspect of the production, manufacturing or marketing process), please do not hesitate to email us or private message us.

be aware of issues with online marketing – & how your own website can help avoid them

Saw this article today and had to share it (which a little adaption and addition),
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While the EPK (electronic press kit) can substitute for your website, you shouldn’t neglect making your website the hub from which you make your presence known.

Relying on Facebook and other social networking services can be a great way to build your following, but you ultimately want total control over your musical message.

It’s simply too dangerous to rely on other companies to care about your music more than you do.

Don’t “Digitally Sharecrop” Your Music

 Reverbnation, BandCamp and all those sites are amazing services for the musician. But they are all third-party services that you ultimately don’t have any control over.

Now don’t get me wrong, when you are a new (or even relatively new) artist starting out ReverbNation is a great hub of activity allowing you to link everything for free (and pay for just the add-ons you want like mail merge etc)  – but as you get along and as you have a budget to build and maintain a good website (and associated email addresses etc) then taking full control of your ‘hub’ is important.

When Facebook decides it’s not interested in promoting music anymore because the say, the new Myspace gets their act together enough to be really good at it (if that happens), what’s going to happen to all those fans you’ve reached out to on Facebook? Will you still reach them? Or will Facebook just shut down all your hard work?

That’s what digital sharecropping is. Relying on a service you have no control over and then being the victim of their whims. That’s no good.

Didn’t you become a musician because you wanted to do things your way without people telling you what to do?

Your website is the most important thing for your presence online. You shouldn’t ignore all the awesome social networking sites that are available to musicians, but make it a goal to bring your fans to your website.

Why Have Your Own Website?

 Including everything said above, the most important aspect is that it allows you to structure the experience you want your fans to have.

 All the social networking sites are the same. The layout is basically the same for any band, whether they’re hip-hop or grindcore. But on your own website you can show your fans what your most important thing is.

And not only that, you can design your website so that you focus on the most important action you want your fans to take:-.

  • Your MusicAre you trying to sell your music? Have an obvious way for your fans to listen to and buy your music as soon as they land on your site.
  • Your TourAre you currently touring? Display your tour dates prominently on your website and allow your fans to sign up to your email list so you can notify them when you play a show close to them.
  • Your FundingBands have really jumped on the crowdfunding bandwagon. If you have a campaign going and you need some extra funding, advertising your crowd funding campaign might be a good priority.

Those are just some ideas. Your situation might be different and you might want to focus on something else that makes your band special. Just focusing on capturing your fan’s email is an important aspect of marketing your band. It doesn’t have to have a big reason behind it.

What it all comes down to is the importance of customization. You want to have the final say in how your band is portrayed.

Other Important Website Content

As well as your #1 Call to Fans, your website has to have all the other things that make up a website or a press kit.

  • ContactEmail, phone number, contact form or whatever. Make sure you are easy to contact. And respond to fans! Nothing is more exhilarating than getting a response from a band you admire.
    And with your own website and domain name comes your own specific email address – which looks much more professional than hotmail or gmail etc.
  • MusicDon’t bury your music deep down in some page on your website. If it’s not your #1 Call to Fans, then it should be the second thing everyone sees on your site. You are a musician after all, and your music is what you’re all about. If you’re not ready to publicize your music because you don’t know how to mix it, talk to us about our inhouse and online production services.
  • BiosLet your visitors know who you are about, but don’t bore them to tears. A simple, concise bio focused on your music and your successes is better than a long life story nobody cares about because you’re not famous yet.
  • ShowsBands don’t tour all the time so tour dates aren’t always relevant. But if you’re playing locally you should put up your dates on your website so that potential fans can come see you live.
  • Sales facilities  – run your own ‘shop’ or control the feed to your aggregator/online sales sites. Again your own facility may require time, patience, finance, merchant approval with the bank for credit card transactions – but you can use paypal or link to your itunes, CDBaby etc instead to be cost effective …… but again YOU control the flow and pathway

 How to Set Up Your Band Website?

The reason social networking sites for musicians work so well is because they are so easy to set up. Everything is done for you and you just need to upload some pictures, videos and music along with your bio and you’re good to go!

 Creating your own website isn’t as easy, but it’s far from difficult.

 One of the biggest hurdles with creating your own website is the matter of hosting. Having your own website does cost but it’s not expensive and it’s definitely worth the investment. However, if you are seriously strapped for cash then there are free resources out there.

Free Website Resources
Tumblr – Tumblr is extremely popular and can be used for a variety of purposes.
WordPress.com – WordPress.com is the free version of WordPress, not to be confused with WordPress.org which needs separate hosting.
WordPress is my blogging/website tool of choice and it extremely versatile for musicians.
It is a great way to start out.

Self-Hosted Resources
I won’t go into the details of which hosting company you should use. Plenty of websites have done that. There is a myriad of providers and ‘hosting packages’ out there – so you need to find one that suits you needs and has capacity to expand with you(both in facilities , storage size etc)

The bottom line is that you need to make the website creation process easy on yourself or you will need to pay someone to help. ….. or a combination.
For example, we paid for someone to help us design the structure, flow and look of our website (pavmusic.com) but we administer it, add/delete content etc on an ongoing basis (and just get them to help with the really tricky stuff or provide extra storage capacity).

Two tips – You don’t really want to have to learn ftp/html code to set up and run your website…. and you dont have to these days. Plain english WYSIWYG CMS (what you see is what you get – client management systems) facilities abound and are quite inexpensive. Whatever hosting company you go with, make sure they have one-click installs on popular blogging platforms such as WordPress.

Domain Name
If you buy hosting and set up your own website, you must also buy your own domain name. Every hosting company will sell you domain names along with their hosting, and that may be the simplest way to go about it for you or, go through the official government process (which is what we did).
Additionally, your band name might not be very unique, in which case your domain name is probably already taken – so you may need to come up with an adaption for the website. The simplest way to fix this problem is to add -music or -band behind your name when you register your domain name. So if you’re band name was 10th Street Yuppies and http://www.10thstreetyuppies.com was taken by some weird brokerage firm you would simply buy the domain name http://www.10thStreetYuppiesMusic.com. It’s not the most perfect solution but it’s the easiest one.

 Conclusion

To sum it up ………
while it costs to set up and run (and so may be something for the future rather than now) a solid website is a great asset to have. It enables you to showcase exactly who you are, what you are all about in the way you want to look (which helps to differentiates you from other bands and artists). It also lets you have email addresses and contact details that are not 3rd party aligned and represent you (rather than you at hotmail or gmail etc)

How Musicians Make Money from YouTube

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youtube banner How Musicians Make Money from YouTube

An article on CDBaby blog by Chris Robley that I thought was very much needed to be seen – so copied verbatim (and acknowledging) – if you dont understand this and have set it up properly – get on to it (yes its CDBaby orientated, but whether through them, Tunecore, AMCOS, PAS or other aggregator or collection facility – all those little bits are part of your potential income stream … and it all adds up.
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According to Brian Botkiller, YouTube has turned into “the world’s jukebox.” It’s the most popular music-discovery tool online. Over 6 billion hours of video is streamed every single month by more than 1 billion unique users — and a huge amount of those folks are looking for music.

All this music activity on YouTube is generating new money for independent musicians.

Is your music on YouTube? If so, great!

But are you getting paid for your music on YouTube? If not, you should be.

A lot of independent musicians don’t know it’s even possible to “monetize” songs on YouTube, and that’s understandable. YouTube doesn’t allow you as an artist to monetize your songs yourself.

Sure, you can monetize the VIDEOS in your YouTube channel on your own, but not your SONGS — and that’s an important distinction.

What kind of money is YouTube paying to musicians?
The answer is simple – ad revenue (YouTube is a Google company after all).
You know — banner ads, video ads, ads that are skippable after the first 5 seconds, and ads that aren’t. YouTube puts on its wizardly Google clothing and serves up the ads it thinks a particular viewer will be most responsive to based on that user’s previous search, web-surfing, and viewing habits, their location, and lots of other creepy factors it’s probably best not to think about. Google KNOWS!

Anyway, companies pay YouTube for that targeted advertising reach — sometimes paying per-click, sometimes paying per-impression, sometimes per view (for video ads) — and YouTube shares some of this ad revenue with the content creator (the person who uploaded the video on which the advertisement is being run).

In short, the way musicians earn money from YouTube is by allowing YouTube to place ads on the videos which feature their music.

The difference between monetizing YouTube videos and monetizing songs on YouTube
OK. Much of what I’ve said thus far is fairly common knowledge, at least amongst YouTube-savvy musicians. But here’s something lots of musicians don’t know: you can monetize ANY video on YouTube that uses your music, not just the videos in your channel(and this is where CDBaby, Tunecore, collections agencies, etc help).
When someone uses one of your songs in their crazy cat video, YouTube can ID your song, place an ad on the video, and direct a share of any ad revenue generated by the video to YOU. That’s right: when someone else uses your music in one of their YouTube videos, they forfeit their ability to collect ad revenue for that video — and it gets paid, instead, to you.

Who else would be using my music on YouTube besides me?
Well, lots of people! The more folks that use your music in YouTube videos, the more money you’ll make. Here are just a few of the ways your music can be used in other peoples’ video content on YouTube:
* Fan Videos (which you can encourage through contests)
* Crazy cat videos (or any home movie or family slideshow where people want to add a soundtrack)
* Corporate presentations and how-to videos
* Commercials
* Song videos (where someone uploads your song with a still image of the album art, band photo, etc.)
* And more

Get paid for the usage of your music on YouTube
(Note from Ian – so here is the CDBaby promo for their service area but it applies to the others mentioned before as well – research or ask them so you get yourself set up properly)
Part of CD Baby’s mission is to help artists make money. As the music business shifts to catch up with technological innovations, we want to make sure indie musicians aren’t getting left out. That’s why we’ve created a simple solution to make sure you get paid for your music on YouTube.

And because we want to make sure you’re not missing out on this money, there’s no additional cost to get enrolled in our YouTube monetization program (beyond the initial signup fee for your album or single).

With the help of our sync-licensing partners at Rumblefish, we’ll get YouTube to sonically fingerprint all the music you’re selling on CD Baby and use their IDing system to find any video out there in the YouTube universe where your music appears. YouTube will place an ad on those videos and we’ll make sure you get paid a share of any ad revenue generated. We’ve already paid almost half-a-million dollars to independent musicians for the usage of their music on YouTube. By the end of 2013, we’re projecting that figure will top a million. Are you earning your share?

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So interesting? Do you have it all in place with your online sales provider(s)? If not might I suggest you check it out and get it sorted – you never know what $$$ are waiting for your collection already and into the future.

.Disclaimer: Yes I use and recommend CDBaby to most of the clients I work with as my aggregator of choice for setting up their online distribution/sales because of this and a range of other services they offer – but I dont get any compensation for promoting/using them – and all who use them can access their musicians blog with articles and information like above).

Cheers,

ian

What Are Some of the Features Of a “Timeless” Hit Record?

Rather than something that rises quickly to the surface and then fades almost as quickly (like the froth on your coffee), we have all heard those hit songs that can be considered ‘timeless classics’.

Whether it’s a hip hop track, a rock classic, a song with a message or an 80’s power ballad, these songs share some essential features that ensure they will be on the airwaves for years to come.

Obviously there is not one hard and fast rule for this as every song is different. There are successes with songs (and artists) that make you scratch your head in disbelieve, and failures that you think ‘should have gone platinum’. There are professional song writers who will write the song that flies one time and something similar doesn’t get a look in the charts the next time (and it can’t be explained).  Some would say if its ‘inspired’ then it will be fine, or ‘I just want to get my music out there’, etc.

However, presuming one wants some commercial success with music released, here are a few features that many of these hit records seem to share (and obviously we are not talking classical, instrumental pieces here – although some of the production comments apply there too).

A ‘catchy’ song
Starting with the obvious, a hit record must be a great song. Above all the melody must be strong, as this is what a listener focuses on and this should be accompanied by some great lyrics and a good groove. You can apply the best production techniques possible, but if the song is weak then the record will sink without a trace!

A strong vocal

Having a great vocal is a real asset to any record. If you have a quality song and you have a strong vocalist to sing the melody, then this can be the key base to creating a hit record. A great vocal does not necessarily need to be technically proficient, but more to do with how a singer can successfully interpret the emotion in the song i.e. how they can convey the message in the lyrics.

Questions like: Do they live/emote the lyrics? Tell the story to the listener (without a visual for them to rely on)? Sync into the message of the song and deliver that element perfectly? Does their tone, sound, style ‘fit’ the song? etc

An accomplished performance
You may have the heard the expression “You can’t gold plate a turnip” and this definitely applies to creating a hit record. A track must sound like there is ‘life’ in the performance and no amount of editing in the studio, fiddling with EQ’s, compression or reverb can replicate this. It can be hard to put your finger on it at times, which is all the more frustrating, but sometimes one take just sounds better than another. If you have musicians who put their all into a performance and play with real emotion and intensity, then the production phase becomes far easier!

A creative arrangement
After the song and the vocal, you need to ensure you have a strong arrangement. This involves using the right structure and ensuring each section of the music is interesting for the listener. This can be achieved by adding extra instruments, adding a counter melody, changing the drum pattern, or changing the key etc. Have a listen to some hit songs, and pay attention to the subtle differences between each section. How is verse 2 different to verse 1? How is the last chorus different to the first?

Of course within that one must consider:
a. It must also be ‘genre appropriate’
b. what is done must fit the song – “just cause ya can doesn’t mean ya should” …need to be careful that you are not adding elements or arrangement for its own sake rather than to enhance the message/purpose/story in the song.

A well produced track
Although there are examples of hit songs which don’t technically sound very good, generally the really big and timeless records do sound excellent. A well engineered record does not guarantee it will be a smash, especially if the song, vocal, arrangement and performance are not up to scratch, but it can add an extra dimension to the overall sound, if the EQ’s are well balanced and the right amount of reverb and compression is applied.

The timeless factor

Despite having all the previous factors in place, does it ‘hit the mark’.

Are all the above factors essential for every hit song?
Well in short, no.
Again, there will always be some songs which become hit records and cannot be explained. You will find some songs with weak vocals and melodies which take the charts by storm.

However, on most of the really big hits, you will find they contain the majority, if not all, of the factors in this article. Songs like “Merry Christmas Everybody” by Slade will be heard every December in shopping malls and on the radio. Other hits like “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson and “Imagine” by John Lennon will be played all year round for many years to come.

Whether your release hits the mark and becomes a timeless classic or not…… it seems to me that if the elements are considered and in place, you significantly improve the chances of that happening, don’t you?  …………… just saying 😀