Journal of the
Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association
Volume 13, Number 1 (2013)
Teaching Modern Production and
Songwriting Techniques: What Makes a Hit Song?
David Tough, Belmont University
Most casual listeners would regard the
job of a professional songwriter or producer as more of an art than a
science. Yet some producers and songwriters consistently create songs
that make listeners shout, weep, buy, and even illegally download the
music they are hearing. These types of writers are typically not
available to apprentice hundreds of students so, how do we learn from
their craft? This article attempts to answer several questions about
the concept of hit song science (HSS) as related to the instruction of
future music producers and songwriters. Hit song science is defined as
the task that attempts to predict, prior to its distribution, whether a
given song will be a commercial success solely based on its audio
characteristics (De Bie, et al. 2011).
1. What do modern hit songs have in common, and how are they changing?
2. What techniques can an aspiring producer and songwriter use to
effectively reach a commercial audience?
3. What type of song is reaching the top of the charts in this new
world of social media, digital distribution, illegal downloading, and