In the first two chapters we learned a lot about what kinds of music people like, and about what actually makes people buy records. You should have remembered the following: More intelligent people are more likely to prefer music that’s considered to be good music, music that’s a bit more complex and more challenging, more educated people will are more likely to prefer music that’s alternative and not necessarily “modern” or “trend-following”, and people who are – from a psychological view – leaders and who are open to new stuff are more likely to check out or even to buy music produced by some unknown underdog. That’s the kind of people you will make your record for.
You will make music for music lovers. Accept the fact that the masses will probably never listen to your music.
Unless they’re told to do so by their social environment or by the media, and that won’t be the case, at least not at your current stage. The masses may follow one day, but you’ll have to go for the educated leaders first. You’ll have to go for those who are different, for the weirdos, for the crazy ones, for art lovers. But all of this is not a problem, as you’ve already learned that the masses are not responsible for the income of real artists.
Music lovers spend money on music, and they buy albums. The masses buy singles, or no music at all.
If you want to make good music, then your potential fans and record buyers will tend to be
- leaders, who will also be
- open to new stuff.
Studies and surveys tell us that this is the kind of people who like music that’s
- not vocal driven (the music itself will be a bit more important than the singer’s performance or haircut),
- intense, and
So that’s what you should try to deliver. No cheap chart pop, but innovative and revolutionary handmade music. Finally you should not forget about the mere-exposure effect, as seen in chapter 1. The mere-exposure effect makes us like things that we hear over and over again, that’s why record companies want their songs to be played on the radio all of the time, that’s why they support trend-following acts, and that’s also why they’re continuously pushing and hyping all of their stars. Now you won’t be able to compete with those entertainers and companies, and your songs won’t be played over and over again on the radio.
You will have exactly one chance to convince the listener that you’re really great.
And that’s why you will need to write a few songs that will be a bit less complex, and that will instantly catch the attention of your potential fans. There are basically two kinds of songs:
- The ones that you need to hear a few times until you really like them.
- The ones that you will find amazing instantly, even if you have only listened to them for a minute.
That’s the kind of song you will get addicted to, the one you want to hear over and over again. In fact you will already have decided to listen to it again before you finished listening to it for the first time. That’s the kind of song you’ll need to write, if you really want to make it. It will have to be less complex and probably even use a quite traditional structure, but it should still be reflective, intense, and rebellious.
It will have to blow people’s minds. That will be your “hit song”, or your “signature song”.
The Masters Of The Past, from The Beatles and James Brown to David Bowie, Ray Charles, Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson, they were all geniuses when it came to writing such songs, and as you’ve learned in the previous chapters there were tons of songs like that in the Golden Age, in almost all genres. And that’s one of today’s biggest problems:
There are no real killer songs anymore.
This is what we’ll have to change, and this is one of the things we’ll work on in this chapter. You can’t produce a killer song by just following the trends, and killer songs in the Golden Age have often been game changers – they were bending or breaking the rules, and they had an impact because they were different in a certain way, which allowed them to stand out.