Ever wondered what makes a hit song pop off? Sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees when creating new music. We break down the basic elements of a musical cracker.
The word “investment” would make most independent musicians wince when discussing songwriting. Understandable. But, being a creative artist is a business that requires revenue, and we want to help you keep that ball rolling.
In the vast landscape of the music industry, writing a hit song is the ultimate goal for many independent musicians. Of course, not everyone is concerned with commercial success. But, for many, landing a hit song can unlock a steady career doing the very thing they are most passionate about.
The power of a hit song lies not only in its ability to captivate listeners but also in its potential to generate consistent revenue streams. With the advent of NFTs, independent musicians now have the opportunity to sell fractions of their music streaming royalties to fans and investors, making it more important than ever to understand what makes a hit song.
In this blog, we will delve into the art and science of crafting a hit song that has the potential to become a global sensation. Build your audience and further your career, while allowing fans to enjoy a tasty passive income alongside you.
How to Craft Memorable Melodies
A catchy melody, or hook, is often the backbone of a hit song. This is the element that can turn a track into an indestructible earworm, keeping you whistling and humming the tune for days on end. A solid melody acts as an instant identifier for a song, making it recognisable and memorable. Nailing one of these can ensure people come back again and again to scratch that insatiable musical itch.
Here’s how you can create melodies that resonate with your audience:
- Keep it simple: Simplicity is key when it comes to memorable melodies. Think of iconic songs like Happy by Pharrell Williams or Common People by Pulp. They feature straightforward and instantly recognisable melodies that stick in listeners’ minds.
- Focus on repetition: Repetition helps solidify melodies in listeners’ brains. A repeating motif or hook can be the earworm that keeps your hit song on repeat. Consider how the chorus of Can’t Stop the Feeling! by Justin Timberlake becomes an infectious refrain that’s impossible to forget. It might feel a little like a nursery rhyme, but it really does work.
- Experiment with variations: While repetition is essential, adding subtle variations can add interest and prevent your melody from becoming monotonous. Keep it simple, but not too simple! Explore different rhythmic patterns, intervals, and note sequences to keep your listeners engaged throughout the song.
Writing Engaging Lyrics
Human beings love stories. Storytelling is a powerful tool that people have utilised through the ages. Words and language unlock the power to connect with people on a deeper emotional level. Lyrics that resonate with the audience are bound to win countless fans.
Try these top tips for penning captivating and compelling lyrics for your hit song.
Tell a Story
As we mentioned previously, humans are natural storytellers. Narratives can evoke powerful emotional responses in people. This is why so many industries rely on great storytelling, just like marketing or fundraising. If you are able to craft lyrics that take listeners on a journey, be it a personal experience, relatable situation, or universal theme, you’ll likely earn a special place in their hearts.
An example of a musician who has carved out an impressive career through emotional storytelling is Adele. Famed for her tracks revolving around relationships and heartbreak, she has won the popularity of a global audience.
Use Vivid Imagery
You may have heard the phrase in school English classes, “Show, don’t tell”. This refers to using descriptive language and vivid imagery to paint a picture, rather than simply listing off facts about a scene. The latter is boring for listeners/readers and is unlikely to gain you many fans.
Engaging lyrics often rely on sensory details to create a tangible experience for the listener. Absolute classic examples include imagery around hearing someone’s voice, feeling someone’s touch, and smelling the scent of a place.
Metaphors, similes, and descriptive language can elevate your lyrics and make them more memorable. This is always where songwriting gets really fun, especially if you’re a bit of a language nerd!
Connect with Your Audience
Before you can launch into creative language and emotional themes, you must first understand your audience. Who are you writing for? What kind of experiences might they be familiar with? How do they tend to express their emotions? Answering these questions will guide you through the lyrics writing process with a clearer target audience in mind.
When listened feel understood and represented, they are more likely to connect with your music on a deeper level. This is where you could solidify a tribe and community, beyond a simple audience or fanbase.
Create a Hook to Reel People In
An extension of the importance of crafting a memorable melody, creating a solid hook is vital for writing a hit song. A hook is often found in the chorus section. It could be the whole chorus (if the chorus is a short, repetitive phrase), or just the key line of it.
When crafting a strong hook, you should try to keep it concise and memorable. That’s the whole point after all; a hook is short, catchy, and instantly recognisable. This is the real earworm element, that has people tapping their feet without even realising. A classic example of this is from popular music giants, The Beatles, and their track I Want To Hold Your Hand.
Similar to melodies, repetition is powerful in hooks. Repetition helps solidify the hook in listeners’ minds and creates a sense of familiarity. However, be careful not to overdo it; the hook should be repeated enough to be memorable but not to the point of annoyance.
Hooks can be based on a catchy phrase, a melodic motif, or a combination of both. Play around with different ideas and melodies to find the hook that grabs attention and leaves a lasting impression.
Focus on Flawless Production
We often think of songwriting as the writing of lyrics, or sitting at a piano trying to piece together a melody. However, the production of a song is a hugely significant part of the songwriting process. A cleverly produced song can be the difference between a song taking off or flopping.
That’s not to say your production has to be pristinely polished. It all depends on your style. But, whatever sound you end up aiming for, make sure you do a decent job. Consider the following elements to create a memorable sonic experience:
- Focus on quality: Invest in professional recording, mixing, and mastering to ensure your hit song sounds polished and professional. High-quality production can elevate the impact of your music and make it stand out among competitors.
- Experiment with sounds: Don’t be afraid to explore different genres, instruments, and textures. Unique and unexpected sounds can make your song memorable and distinctive. Be open to collaborations with producers or musicians who can bring fresh perspectives to your music.
- Pay attention to trends: While originality is important, staying informed about current trends can help your music resonate with a wider audience. Stay connected with the evolving music landscape and incorporate elements that align with your artistic vision.
Finding the formula of a hit song is a blend of art, science, and understanding your audience. By focusing on memorable melodies, engaging lyrics, irresistible hooks, and impressive production, independent musicians can increase their chances of creating songs that garner a vast number of monthly streams.
In this era of NFTs and music royalties as investments, a hit song has the potential to provide long-term financial rewards for both musicians and their dedicated fans.
So, let your creativity flow, unleash the magic within your music, and create songs that resonate with listeners across the globe. Your hit song could be the next chart-topper of 2023!