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Author Topic: From Recording to Hit?  (Read 3207 times)

Offline 12345

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From Recording to Hit?
« on: October 06, 2005, 09:07:19 pm »
As far as I can tell, there are several "rules" or "paths" that can make a "hit" after it is recorded.  Assuming we are starting with a "hit-quality" song, what is the best way to turn this song into something of mass-consumption?  

For example, one flowchart might be:
1) Give the song to a label
2) the label supplies the song to stores
3) the label also hires promoters in several key cities to promote on radio stations
4) the promoters help create a buzz for live shows in that region
5) the song is licensed to film and commercials
6) the success of the first "hit" helps sell subsequent "hits."

Or another flowchart might be:
1) post the song online for people to hear as a sample
2) the sample is catchy enough the people buy it
3) the people that buy it tell their friends
4) meanwhile the Internet distribution channels advertise the song
5) this advertisment helps perpetuate sales and helps justify the artist's tour

Or another might be:
1) the artist plays in local venues and tries to promote the "hit" at the venues by selling or giving away CDs
2) this creates a "buzz" which leads to financing from investors
3) the investors pump the song into the two flowcharts above

Or yet another:
1) the song is re-recorded by an established artist, etc...

I know these are generally vague, and I am pretty sure this topic is "borderline" on this forum because it deals with the song post-recording, so my apologies for that...but I am really interested to hear peoples' perspectives on what happens to a "hit" song after it is released as a set of general "rules."  

EDIT: One of the reasons I ask this is because I believe it could be useful during the actual recording process, as it could help define the recording session's "scope."  

Thanking you in advance,

MW

Offline 12345

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2005, 09:26:26 pm »
Okay, then...I guess I'll start by responding to my own question.  I spoke with an artist the other day...when I asked this artist what the audience of the recording was, the artist had a very clear-cut idea about who would be most moved by the song.  It as almost as if the song's "destiny" opened up.  This affected the mix substantially, and took a lot of pressure off of me because I knew the decisions I was making in front of the monitors were the correct ones.  So...I am curious as to whether anyone else on this board has these discussions to help guide the mix and even direct the final product, and if so, what kinds of responses...

I suppose my question is somewhat marketing-related, but also gets into the depths of the artist-engineer interaction.  Does this make sense?

MW


Offline Bob Olhsson

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2005, 09:54:48 pm »
Some of us who are bored sick with talk about recording gear actually created an alternate universe here at PSW to discuss precisely this subject It's called the MARSH Forum.

Almost every one of the hundred or so hit records I've been involved with has taken on a life of its own and found its own unique way onto the air, into the stores and ultimately into people's hearts and record collections. Hype and money gets you over the rough spots but the bottom-line is that the only way any record can actually make money is promotion by word of mouth. It's almost like setting off a chain reaction and there certainly is no real formula I've ever seen. The music "press" likes to tell us it's all hype because that's how they earn their living. Thankfully  I've never seen any signs that their delusions of power had any reality beyond the power people were willing to give them which I'll grant has often been far too much.

Come on over!

And yes, somebody'd better know where the green and the hole is if they want to hit a hole-in-one at their session.

Offline vernier

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2005, 10:02:33 pm »
It's two things. One, being attractive (in some way), and  two, being on a label that decides to spend at least a million bucks to introduce you to record buyers. Thats just the beginning, and for most, the end.

Offline 12345

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2005, 10:28:18 pm »
Thanks to both of you!  Actually I have been thinking about posting this question for a couple of days...but have been nervous because I wasn't sure if it fit on this forum.  I will definitely check out the MARSH!  And Bob, when I was thiking about this question for a couple of days I actually was hoping you might respond to it because I admire your work.  And thanks for your reply Vernier!  So thanks!!  See you at the Marsh!  

Sorry about posting here, George...

I am interested in the technical aspects of this, too, then...I saw a company that specializes in "joke" plug-ins such as the "vintage silence" and a modeler that simulates a ninja or clown being in the room.  Although the ninja and clown are a parody, perhaps the technical discussion of how the target audience of a song has affected mixing or tracking decisions is worthwhile.  For example, for a college audience, keep the song more organic and less tight...for the rap audience boost it +4dB, for guitar-rock, cut the highs and boost the mids, for guitar jazz, cut the treble and break out the omni mic...

It may seem like I'm trying to salvage this thread but I really am interested in the technical/marketing interaction, and I like to break things down into "rules."  And after the "rules" are suggested, I like to analyze "why" these rules pertain...

MW

Offline tuchel

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2005, 11:11:31 pm »
Unknown artists do not sell significant amounts of music by way of the internet.  The promise (hope) of this medium is a fallacy. You can "give" it away, and thus the value of the music is cast.

Big time professional promotion, word of mouth on a grand scale, and radio play can simply not be replaced in order to succeed in product sales.

Take a few months and do your best to get this going on your own. Better to attempt this and learn, than to read what I've got to say about it.

As i see it the model is more like:
Make a great record.  Tour til your tires are flat, to support it.
try to make an impression on any label.  In time, if your lucky, you'll get access to the promotion machine.  The percentages of acts that get this far are pretty low.  Those get a hit, thinner still.

Terry

Offline Bob Olhsson

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2005, 02:27:27 am »
Word of mouth on a grand scale is what leads to all the rest including raising the financing.

Offline Reitzas

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2005, 02:38:17 am »
There's a very fascinating easy read book called "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell.  The book is an interesting look into human behaviour patterns with many examples  where one small change can create a bigger change on a national level.
This may not answer your question directly, but it certainly covers the topic of how product, habits, ideas etc... become epidemics (like a hit record).
Here's the link to the amazon page.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0316346624/qid =1128665600/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-8671344-3766424?v=glance &s=books&n=507846

Hope you enjoy.

Dave Reitzas
http://www.reitzas.com


Offline maxdimario

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2005, 04:06:07 am »
The manager of the Police was quoted as talking about the concept of 'critical mass'.... in the sense that when there is enough positive reaction from the audiences, the band reaches 'critical mass' and explodes, never to be the same again.

Some of the big acts of nowadays, exist as a result to cassette-trading networks between fans that spread the word years ago.

If there is one thing that maybe binds most self-promoting hits together, it is the ability to offer something that is actually 'needed' by the public.

An strong element of 'truth' above all, and enough originality (as a result of truth) to give the music a different angle, therefore making it desireable and identifiable.

I find that genre-oriented or soundalike records are actually an expression of a marketing-system, and the only ones that actually have a chance to get to the top are the ones that already start from pretty high up, with financing, support etc..

Offline Bob Olhsson

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2005, 09:09:50 am »
What fascinates me is how much less of a critical mass a hit record seems to require than say a toothpaste. It's one of a tiny few bottom-up industries left in the world.

Offline timrob

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2005, 11:17:58 am »
maxdimario wrote on Fri, 07 October 2005 03:06



Some of the big acts of nowadays, exist as a result to cassette-trading networks between fans that spread the word years ago.

If there is one thing that maybe binds most self-promoting hits together, it is the ability to offer something that is actually 'needed' by the public.

An strong element of 'truth' above all, and enough originality (as a result of truth) to give the music a different angle, therefore making it desireable and identifiable.

I find that genre-oriented or soundalike records are actually an expression of a marketing-system, and the only ones that actually have a chance to get to the top are the ones that already start from pretty high up, with financing, support etc..



I think you've hit on one of the keys to success here. An artist that does a better job of promoting themselves may have a better chance than an artist that has talent but expects a label to make everything happen for them.
Also, If you've got people trading tapes of your shows, chances are that they will be collecting your commercial recordings too.
The ones that can get themselves noticed by people willing to throw money at them certainly stand a better chance as long as they have the drive to make things happen on their own or can put together a team that can help them stay focused.

I think it has already been proven that the hit mentality is not very sustainable economically. Unless an artist comes up with a timeless classic, they are pretty much doomed to obscurity within 5 to 10 years.

Best
Tim Roberts
Waterknot Music
Nashville


---------------------------
Ours is not to understand.
Ours is just to record the band.
-Unknown


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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2005, 02:03:21 pm »
Music is "about" invoking emotion. Hits are usually due to rapid familiarity, catchy "easy to learn" hooks but as noted, usually have a short shelf life. Quality of recording and production is one factor..although we have all heard less than stellar productions become huge hits. Culture plays a large role. A Tommy Dorsey classic performed by a big band may not (more than likely not) catch on to the 18 year old set unless it is accompanied with a familiar beat or sequence which is identifiable to said culture.

Speaking of self, I gravitated toward high quality productions when I was at the "buying age" of pop music rather than message. Each his own here but some music is timeless and today, the quick hit seems to be what many in this industry are shooting for rather than timeless marvels which leave a very lasting impression after many listens. The complexity (skill level, arrangement, production) of the art may have something to do with whether a song will become a timeless one but then again, Steely Dan (the group) has some rather easy to perform, top flight productions that are timeless.

In any production, I say...ALWAYS strive for the highest quality possible..no matter the complexity or ease of the performance/arrangement/mix. At least..one of the bases are covered.

http://balancedmastering.com

"Listen and Learn"
---Since 1975---

Offline Bob Olhsson

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2005, 02:42:32 pm »
timrob wrote on Fri, 07 October 2005 10:17

 An artist that does a better job of promoting themselves may have a better chance than an artist that has talent but expects a label to make everything happen for them.
I've almost never seen a label make anything happen for anybody. Even artists who are on their fifth platinum album have to sell the next one to the people at the label first. Certainly a label can drop the ball big-time but the artist's JOB is selling themselves and the record. This is basic to every single artist I've ever seen make it. Maybe mom, dad or a manager played a big part but I can't really think of any exceptions.

Offline 12345

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2005, 10:38:01 pm »
These are all fascinating replies...I like the component about a "hit" not necessariy lasting long...that is a good point.  Also I like the idea of production quality because this is in some ways what makes it timeless...I can instantly relate to an "era" just by listening to a production.  

The concept of the "artist selling themselves" is crucial, I believe, and it is such a non-intuitive aspect of the creation of music.  

I think the idea of being well-established helps, but even if the artist is well-established, so few of most popular artists' works are actually "hits."  

It seems like such an incredibly delicate balance.  I am currently at odds with: 1) should an artist push so hard that tunnel vision overtakes; or 2) is it sufficient to just "not screw up" and let the song come into its own.  I think the same can be said regarding recording in the studio....like I was starting over on a new song last night, and realized how incredibly hard it is to just make something sound good--like it has an actual progression instead of just being a 3-minute "intro."  But if a song reaches that "progression" stage where it has a chance, it really sounds like the "word of mouth" will propel it....which is fascinating altogether.  And leads me to question what causes people to act in that way...

I will undoubtedly read "The Tipping Point."  

Thanks all,
MW

Offline maxdimario

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Re: From Recording to Hit?
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2005, 05:12:38 pm »
Quote:

What fascinates me is how much less of a critical mass a hit record seems to require than say a toothpaste. It's one of a tiny few bottom-up industries left in the world.


it is amazing.
It's still a good investment for those who have a good 'nose' for what is truly worthwhile.

When you think about it twice, and forget the industrial aspects, music really belongs to the world of culture, and then you realize that it is perfectly normal for the meaningful stuff to be so readily accepted by the masses.

music is a cultural and spiritual exchange between people, it doesn't really need marketing.

one person can change the lives of thousands by  communicating his/her inspired actions/creations.

people have always been prepared to pay for what makes them feel 'alive' or gives them a sense of hope, communion, joy etc.

music can and does accomplish this.

another funny thing is how music can break down social barriers that huge amounts of money can't do...

marketing strategy can actually hinder the process.