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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). Questions include: 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 radio consolidation?

Keywords: songwriting, hit songs, hit song science, music informatics, music business, music production, music education

Tough, David. “Teaching Modern Production and Songwriting Techniques: What Makes a Hit Song?” Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 13, no. 1 (2013): 97-124. https://doi.org/10.25101/13.6

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