How to Create Better Songs
I’m reading Futurehit.DNA by Jay Frank and I want to give you 5 gems from his book.
1. Grab the listener in the first 7 seconds
Jay, who was a Senior Vice President of Music Strategy for CMT, explains very thoroughly (somewhat overkill if you’re a songwriter) that you have 7 seconds to capture the modern listener’s attention. If you don’t, you’ve lost them forever. His advice: after a short 4 second intro, start with the chorus.
2. Short songs start the relationship, Long songs make it last
This was an interesting point. In the modern era of on-demand streaming (Spotify and our new friend Apple Music, for example), songs that not only get played the most frequently but also for the longest length of time, earn the most royalties. So, with that in mind, Jay suggests bringing a listener to your house with something short and catchy, then wooing them with longer songs that might not have gotten their attention.
3. Avoid BOREDOM!
Like the author points out, we all have shorter attention spans then ever before. But with longer songs bringing in more royalties, how can you record something that’s over 4 minutes w/o losing the listener? Here are a couple of things:
–>More chord changes, especially around the 2 min. mark, when most listeners tune out. Also, try a modulation during the 2nd chorus (example is Thong Song by Sisqo).
–> Use more dynamics! They don’t have to be in the range of 1-10, but try putting the chorus at 10 and everything else at a 6-7.
4. False Endings
Remember the Spice Girls hit, “Wannabe”. I think it’s still stuck in my head! Jay explains there’s a reason for that: the song ends on the beginning of the chorus. You’re left wanting to hear it resolve and because it doesn’t, you replay the song in your head over and over again. But you also play the song a lot more because you want to satisfy your memory of it. And again, with on-demand capability, you can which means more royalties for the Spice Girls. Try leaving a hit song unresolved and you may get the same results.
5. Albums vs. Singles
This was a really important point. A lot of music-lovers are mourning the bygone days of the album. Ironically, the album was an invention of the record labels during the 70’s as a way to make $10-15 for a hit single or two. By and large, the modern fan will not listen to an album anymore. So it’s more important than ever to record and release. Do not make your fans wait because they will move on!
Those are the hottest takeaways I gathered from Futurehit.DNA. Jay did an awesome job researching the book, filling it with examples and data. But it’s not that helpful when it comes to providing techniques. And that’s what you really need.
Summing it Up, AKA BONUS!
So if Futurehit.DNA isn’t the answer, what is? Anthony Ceseri was a lot like you not too long ago. Incredibly passionate about songwriting, but not sure where to begin. Through working with great songwriters like Berklee College of Music’s Pat Pattison, he began to understand what great songs had in common versus those that just weren’t. Anthony decided to share his discovery of specific techniques.