Tuesday, June 15

How do you impress a listener on Jango?

This week we have a great guest blog post from Jay Frank author of 'Future Hit DNA'. Future Hit.DNA provides a road map to the digital landscape, outlining 15 points that must change in a song if the artists, songwriters and producers of tomorrow want a chart topping hit. Check out the book HERE

For the benefit of all the artists we had Jay to run five Jango Airplay artists that had received high PopScores through the Future Hit DNA wringer....this is what he came up with...

How do you impress a listener on Jango?

It's not just as simple as effectively targeting a like-minded fan and purchasing some plays. The song has got to impress. The model that Jango delivers in music exposure is exactly the type that I discuss in my #1 Music Business book Futurehit.DNA. On Jango, the good news is that you're mixed in with top artists which other services don't deliver. The bad news is that you're placed next to these same artists. Make no mistake, the person who came to listen to their radio station wants to hear the hits. HOWEVER, if you follow several of the rules I discuss in my book, you'll find some success.

To show this in action, I asked Jango to send me five artists of varying genres and see if they fit the model I discuss in my book. These artists were not pulled for any other reason other than their Jango success. Yet without fail, I can show that their success can be proven through the Futurehit.DNA model. Take a listen...

This goth-rock band from New York is typically the type of band that feels my theories can't apply to their music. Indie bands with an edgy genre can't possibly benefit from a formula, they say. At first listen, I thought that the Ropes were largely achieving this success outside of my ideas. Their songs mostly had long intros, a variety of forms, and yet still had a significant online following. That was, until I went to MySpace to discover their most popular song. That song, "Be My Gun" had plays that were nearly 4x the second most played song. Lo and behold, that song adhered to much of my formula. It starts with a short intro (not the seven seconds I advocate, but it gets into the vocals in 9 seconds). It plays with a very provocative lyric in the chorus with "I'm the bullet, will you be my gun?" It has an arrangement change-up at the two minute mark when the instrumentation drops out keeping the listener engaged. Then the song ends with no resolve allowing for the listener to more likely hum the tune after it's completed. All said and done, many of the hallmarks of Futurehit.DNA.

As a disclaimer, Jaron and I discussed my theories just before he wrote and recorded the Country hit "I Pray For You". He thanked me by including Futurehit.DNA in a cameo role in the first video for the song. I've discussed this track in a blog entry on my site at length. The short answer is that there's a very short intro, strong repetition with the "I pray your..." line, a change up at about two minutes (horns in a country song?)...all elements used to full effect. No wonder this track got signed and is now at about half a million paid downloads.

A young emo band has to impress quickly. This band does it in spades. At least half of the songs I checked out jumped right into the vocals. No intro needed. Many emo bands have been doing this for awhile, which is why they tend to have solid fanbases and sales without much radio airplay. They are instantly engaging to the audience. The songs use a variety of other elements to varying degrees, but this band mostly relies on the short intros to engage the listener.

This Baltimore rapper also mostly relies on the short intro. The songs themselves have a variety of hip-hop styles. But they all engage in quick trips to the vocals to make sure that the listener is engaged. There's not many other elements in his songs that I discuss in the book, save for some pointed lyrics that one would hope occurs in hip-hop. But for the audience, that's what matters and those quick intros are helpful.

An alt-country artist also begs to be a type that would not subscribe to a formula. Much like The Ropes, I investigated this artist further on Myspace to see which of her tracks were most successful. Not surprisingly, the track "Worth Keeping" stuck out with the most plays. Guess what? A two second intro, an instrumental change up at about a minute and a half in to keep the listener engaged, an ending with no chord resolution, PLUS a song at five minutes plus, which is crucial in owning the listening experience. Her most popular song, according to Myspace, turned out to be the one that followed the formula.

While Futurehit.DNA has fifteen tips on how to be successful in the digital age, no one song could contain all fifteen elements. Indeed, as shown above, all five artists above show different examples of how these tips can be combined to success. The one common element is that short intro that I recommend is seven seconds or less. This is even more crucial for Jango listeners because they can hit that skip button. Remember, they want to hear the name brand artist so you better make it count, you need to impress them, and fast. The best way to do it is with the shorter intros. These five Jango artists have taken the short intros into new fans.

How are you doing?


Anonymous said...

What bad advice. Why not write songs that are good instead of letting gimmicks dictate your choices in order to make a 'hit'? I don't write songs to fill some cookie cutter; I write songs because the songs have to come out.

This is what's wrong with music today. This is why everything sounds the same.


Anonymous said...

Tom says....

You write the songs because they have to come out = art. Writing hits = commerce. Classic art.v.commerce discussion. Most hits are hits because people are so moved by them that they have to "own" them. The point of 'future hit' isn't to dictate how you approach writing, but rather, to distinguish what makes a song a hit as opposed to 'one that just has to come out'.

p.win said...

Art is inside and cant be taught.Music is walking the fine line of what listeners want($$$) mixed with your stories(ART).Both have their advantages and disadvantages.Mixing them together jussst right will get you that fan.


Gary Howard said...

Maybe this author is correct for the type of music that he wants to hear and play. But hit songs and popularity is more complicated than this. Listeners come in all shapes and sizes and genres and if one is aware of the types of songs and lyrics that are out there now and popular at this time you should be ok. But remember that music popularity is regional now so target your songs to areas that like you as shown in your Jango statistics. You will have better results!

sky.flying.by said...

heh, and then there are the instrumental artists/bands who like to take time and let things evolve in a song and eschew the ADD-riddled mainstream music fan base. yes, this is not always a recipe for success, but then, in art, we all get to define success for ourselves. critics, "experts" and units sold are only a part of that equation (and for us, who do this music thing purely for the pleasure of making music) it's a very small part indeed.

Pierre Massé said...

Wow, what terrible advice. Basically you are telling young artists who have the capacity to make good music to instead sell out and make cookie-cutter radio-friendly crap. I am very disappointed. Could someone instead write a blog post on real artistry?

Anonymous said...

no one should ever call themselves an artist. that's for someone else to say. i hope i am always listening and learning. the song comes from the heart- even if you try to respond to a specific task. maybe part of having talent is making your point effectivly. even jingles have their inspiration in there sometimes. there is a craft to writing and some self proclaimed artists should rest thir sphincters and try to get better. there's nothing wrong with taking advice if you can improve. and once again somebody else might be able to help. ever hear of george martin?

Anonymous said...

What he's saying is, get to the vocal and, get to the chorus. Other than that, I agree with the overall reaction to this blog. Being chased, overtaken and eaten by wolves for a YouTube video is too good a fate for this proponent of milquetoast schlock.

Anonymous said...

Flip Fargo

Chellie Rose said...

I have enough credits but you only played my song four times yesterday, so how can I reach the listeners if you don't play it?

Anonymous said...

Songwriting is a craft and good craftsmanship is art. I have been too and through enough writing seminars to publish an index of them..Who cares what I've learned? Me!!!! But that point is moot.let's go back to craftsmanship. Now that is what sells the song! Then add exposure and the right audience..Nuff said

Anonymous said...

I started out with low confidence in myself as a recording artist...I was producing music for many artist thats out there today and yesterday Soon I decided to try singing a song and putting it in the public for comment and everyone liked me as an artist so I created an album called All Of Me and it did pretty well...I got more confident and created this CD entitled I LOVE YOU located at 1nse.com and today the songs from this CD is topping the most requested play list on the radio and this wonderful site JANGO AIRPLAY has given me more confidence as YOU send comments to me about my music and I gain fans from all over the world so I thank you all from the bottom of my heart and thanks to Jango for creating such a wonderful site...I'm open for bookings...musiqprod@yahoo.com ...My song WE DID IT FOR LOVE has moved to the #1 most requested song on love 103.7 radio in middle Ga. the people who comment on my songs are so inspiring because they are from all over the world...It is my job to touch the world with love through music. The CD is available on my personal website for only $5.99 as a special .99 cents per song at www.1nse.com I love you all, Anthony.

Dan Gipson said...

Hmmmm..... I write my songs as they come out. I produce them to increase the emotional impact of the song, which tends to mean in most of them, intros that build the mood, weave a musical storyline. If I were writing something hot paced, maybe I'd go to a short intro. I don't LIKE a lot of the music that follows this formula, because it has no distinguishing characteristics, it could have been written by any one of many artists in its particualr genre. So, maybe I'll never top the pop charts (now there's a sure sign of dreck produced, top of the charts), but I do have fans all over the world, and I like, and I AM, what I'm doing. My music is my art, and my art reflects what I see, feel and hear.

Anonymous said...

So... does Jango get a cut of your book sales? Anyway -- short intro, got it! ADD elements -- check!

What bullshit. And those "artists" may be successful but so are the Black Eyed Peas.

'Nuff said.

Marilyn Carino said...

One of the most brilliant songs, one that never fails to give me shivers, is "The Low Spark of High Heel Boys". Also I love Pink Floyd songs. The long intros, full of subtlety and excellent musicianship, draw you in to the world of the song.

I'm proud to hear so many Jango artists standing up for their art and for individuality. Let's all have the courage to reject mediocrity and turn this business around to where excellence is again rewarded.

Jay said...

I would never deny someone that if one is inspired, they should make art for art's sake. To them, don't buy my book. It's not for you and I say as much in the intro. I also agree that the songwriter/artists creativity comes before my book's theories. My ideas are the last part of the equation that many artists have utilized to take a song from good to great.

And it's not just pop artists. I met Icelandic classical artist Olafur Arnalds who gave away two free songs from his new CD. The more "commercial" of his songs didn't respond well because the intro took awhile to get to the hook. Meanwhile, his more experimental personal song got a far better response because he dove right into the music's most important point.

I am helping artists of all genre improve their chances of their music being heard. They are all adopting the book in different ways so my book is hardly making a cookie cutter world. If you are a naysayer, I'm fine if you hate my ideas and don't buy my book. As my readers know well, that just means they have a greater chance of gaining your potential new fans while your music will likely remain the proverbial tree falling on the forest.

Marilyn Carino said...

@Jay, as someone who makes a living selling songs, I think your advice is good on several levels. The point we're trying to make is, do we necessarily want to compromise our artistic vision (although maybe that intro IS a bit too long, but maybe its just right too) to make advances in a music industry full of - for a lack of a more appropriate description - loathsome crap?

People now have zero attention span and everything on the radio is mastered and mixed so loudly, no subtlety, UNMUSICAL - that in my estimation amounts not to art that pleases aesthetically and soothes the soul but is nothing more than A COMMERCIAL FOR ITSELF. Most popular music is formulaic garbage, disposable, mediocre at best. I can't even stomach it.

I think your advice is good for someone wanting to cash in, break in, get a hit - after all, Radiohead's first hit was "Creep", which they almost completely disavow as bullshit now (I love that song!) After that, they did "Kid A", a masterpiece without a single top 40 hit. So there is something to be said for that strategy.

Otherwise, I think we all owe it to ourselves as artists and participants in this great adventure called life to think outside anyone else's proverbial box and do what feels right TO US. We need to do what we do - always better and better as individuals, as artists. Excellence is always rewarded, no matter what form it takes. Perhaps we should be thinking in that direction instead of trying to come up with hit-or-miss formulas that just perpetuate the demise of true art.

Just my two cents. Peace.


Mr.Lee said...

This is good advice in that people seem to have shorter and shorter attention spands.That's not to say anything bad about the listener,we all just have some many people trying to grab our attention that it's best to get right into what you have to give so you stand a chance at holding on to the listener.unless it's a great intro you might lose your audience

Anonymous said...







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Samson said...

The message is in the music, it will take you where it will. Let the street talk.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to reality. The horrible truth is, to make an omelet, you have to crack those shells. There isn't a musician alive today that can hold a candle to prodigies like Mozart or Beethoven and even they had to have an audience in order to continue making music. So I won't get into the art for the sake of art discussion.

I'm not a live-performance musician and as a result, I have to rely on getting people to listen to my stuff online or on radio. As for the latter, a radio station won't even considder an unknown artist if your music isn't to the point and really short (a fact that I had not known unless I had been fortunate enough to get some free critique from a promotor) and only after your song fits in that cookie cutter will they listen to hear if it's any good. As far as the internet is concerned, the reality is that people don't go out looking for unknown artist so you have to lure them into your world by giving them what they're used to and then spring your "art" on them. If you don't, you won't get people to listen to your art and art without an audience is about as usefull as a poop flavoured lollipop.

Books like the one above, serves as a means to an end and IMHO will encourage better music because people who previously had 2 fans listening to their "art" can now possibly have thousands of fans all raving about why they're so glad you're not a "sell-out".

A Nice Vibe on Jango said...

Jango is fueling the great age of music renaissance that began in the early 2000's as the Internet disintermediated the industry machine that tightly confined the boundaries of creative expression. And for that, I am very grateful.

Imagine, allowing music creators to be in direct touch with music consumers without any rigid industry formulas or filters in between. And allowing music consumers to determine what is "popular" or what is not. Brilliant.

As music creators, we have the freedom to choose one of two paths: as a pioneer in this great new age of renaissance that looks FORWARD, or as a soldier marching to the market-tested industry formulas that look BACKWARD. Neither is right, neither is wrong, it's just a choice. And for that, I am very grateful.

Jay provided Jango the guest blog that they asked for, and he articulated his formulas and logic behind those quite well. He has provided music creators leverageable insight into the industry formulas that HAVE worked, and that is a great service for those who want to understand those.

On the other hand, he is NOT providing us any insight into the renaissance formulas of the future that WILL work, nor is he claiming to do so. That, my fellow music creators of the renaissance, is our role. After all, if music creators always adhered to formulas of the past, Elvis would still be number one on the charts.

So let's stay motivated and create music that will help architect the new formulas and shape where music is GOING, not where it has BEEN. That is an incredible and exciting opportunity. And for that, I am very grateful.

Greg Charles / A Nice Vibe, San Francisco

Anonymous said...

the people who are complaining are such morons. you wouldnt know an artist if he pissed on your head. guy has great songwritting tips thank you