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Songwriter’s Market: Guest Post

Rising Above the Noise of Modern Life
– how to really test whether a song has hit potential


For Songwriter’s Market we present a guest post from songwriter, artist, producer Ronnie J. on how best to test whether a song has that hit potential …

Mad with excitement over the brilliant new track I’d just finished, I was anxious to play it to someone and have them confirm my suspicions – Houston, we have a hit song …

But when I eventually managed to corner a friend, actually getting them to sit down and listen proved difficult. “Just play it. I can hear it from here,” they said, exasperated by my instructions on how best to listen to the song. I wasn’t prepared to compromise though. How could they even begin to appreciate the textured production and the subtle nuances of the songwriting if they were standing by the fridge, thumbing distractedly on their smartphone whilst the music was playing? “Please just sit here and put the headphones on … and give me your phone.”

It was only later that I realised my error. I was in the car and although the radio was on, I wondered why it was given you could barely hear it over a cacophony of engine drone, passenger chatter, wind noise, and the trebly crackle of a dodgy sound system.

But from out of nowhere a song came on that somehow managed to rise above the racket and become the only thing I could hear. I’d been oblivious to all the music played up until that point but here was a new song that cut through the noise and made me sit up and listen. “Wow … who is this?!” I thought. I realised that this is what a hit song has to be able to do.

A song might sound at its best when listened to free of distraction and interference on a high-end sound system, but it’s unlikely to be heard that way – so why judge it like that? They say a hit song has to grab you within the first ten seconds, but it also has to be able to pull you out of the fog of a million and one distractions that is modern life. That is a mighty ask.

Encouraged by this profound realisation of how to really test a new song, I stealthily slipped my new track into the car stereo to see whether it got a reaction from my fellow passengers.

What is this shit?!”