Song Introductions Matter Most
- A song starts at the beginning – This is the most important element for today’s hit songwriter. Glaringly obvious you may say, but some would still have you think otherwise. They would have you believe that the song’s most important element is still either the chorus, the title, or the song’s main hook, if it is not contained in the title itself. In the past, when radio (and television) ruled the airwaves, this advice was probably correct. But things have changed recently.
- Write songs that are primarily Internet friendly – not Radio friendly. The rules have changed. Audiences are now primarily searching for and listening to their music online – Youtube, Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, ReverbNation, Myspace, and a variety of other social media platforms. The major difference from traditionally listening to songs on the radio is that internet songs all stream from the beginning. This has such a fundamental impact on thinking about how to write your hit songs and is of huge significance for today’s potential hit songwriter. On the radio or television, you can turn on and tune in at any stage of the song – intro, verse, chorus, bridge, et cetera, – not so with the internet. Songs start at the start.
- You have seven seconds – to grab the listener’s attention. Initial attention span on Youtube is seven seconds, on Twitter it is two seconds. If you haven’t grabbed your audience’s attention in the first seven seconds, they are gone. Once they are gone, they stay gone – you don’t get a second chance. Ten years ago the average hit song introduction was 15 seconds, now it is 7.1 seconds. The peak for song intro length was in the late 1980’s. One in four hit songs today don’t have an intro at all.
- History repeats itself – Hear Ye! Hear Ye! It could be argued that today’s hit songs have their roots way back in the day when travelling minstrels and town criers would announce the current ‘hits’ to their audiences. Their news began with no long introductions, it was headlines first – maximum impact – and then expansion on the story. Neither did the news begin on a fade in. Think of how television news programmes begin on any major network.
- What does this mean? – Here are my Rule One suggestions based on today’s current trends and tomorrow’s songs.
- Forget about fade ins completely and long introductions – maximum length is now 7 seconds.
- Consider dropping the song intro completely – one in four hits today do this.
- Begin with the Title itself, the Chorus, or a Major hook (think Dr.Luke’s Gary Glitter drums on Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl)
- Go for maximum impact – Headlines first! Forget the softly softly approach. Introduce contrast when you begin the first verse.
- Keep instrumental intros to 2 bars, with a 4 bar maximum.
- Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. Check out the current top 10 pop, rock, or country hits on any search engine (although remember that Country music historically has longer intros than either pop or rock songs).
To recap – RULE ONE – If you are keen to join the ranks of the top commercial hit songwriters today- Start at the start.
Please feel free to redistribute this article. I only ask that you acknowledge David Brogan as the author. Email: DavidBrogan@SuccessfulHitSongwriting.com
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