As a musician, you want your songs to be heard. But if your songs are getting skipped over on playlists you worked hard to get placements on, you're not going to get the traction you hope for.
Thankfully there are ways to increase the chances of your song not getting skipped over. It will take a bit of discipline and open-mindedness. Also, we will discuss simple guidelines in this blog post, and there are always exceptions to these guidelines. Use your best judgment on what will work best for you.
However, if you follow these tips, I ensure you'll increase the chances of your song not getting skipped over and finding more people hitting that "like" icon.
Let's get started!
Start with your main hook
Streaming music has democratized music. Anyone can write a song and have it released on all the major platforms in a few days. However, this means that the amount of musical content a person is exposed to is endless.
With this, listeners' attention spans are short. Some studies even say it's around 8 seconds! Because of this, you should begin your song with your hook.
This can be done in various ways. It could be kicking off with the primary melodic phrase or beginning with the chorus. Many hit songs are using this tactic more often.
For example, the mega-hit "Mood" by 24kgoldn starts with a 2-bar loop and kicks right off into the chorus.
Hit song maker Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic uses the melodic phrase opener with the song "I Ain't Worried," written for the Top Gun: Maverick film.
While this songwriting tip might not sit well with some, its effectiveness can't be denied.
Keep your song short
This tip piggybacks off starting with your hook in the intro. In today's Attention Economy, people have shorter attention spans than ever. So it's critical to keep your songs concise and easy to digest.
And let's face it, short songs punch harder. People will lose interest and skip to the next song if your music feels dragging on and not getting to the point.
Think of writing short songs as leaving your listener wanting more. Since short pieces are easier to digest, they are also easier to binge over and over. They also fit into a user-created playlist as they don't interrupt the flow of songs by being 4+ minutes long.
A good rule of thumb is to try and keep your songs between 2 and 3 minutes.
Use dynamics to keep things interesting
Dynamics is the difference between loud and quiet parts. You can manipulate dynamics to make your song more engaging and "sticky" to the listener.
For example, you can drop the music for a beat or two to create drama when transitioning from the verse to the chorus. Or you could try and make the 2nd verse more sparse in the instrumental arrangement to introduce a new feel without changing the general vibe of the track.
Creating dynamics is something that is accomplished in the musical production phase of your music and helps your music have more movement. This is especially important for shorter songs and music built around a single beat.
A hit song that adds dynamics well is Arizona Zervas' song "Roxanne." This song is one loop, but the music keeps moving forward without getting dull because of the excellent use of dynamics moments.
Make your lyrics conversational
Great lyrics make sense in a normal conversation. If you can't speak your words out loud and have them feel natural, your writing is most likely too complicated and convoluted.
When people are streaming music online, they are generally doing other things. So if your lyrics aren't easy to understand and don't tell a compelling story, the listener will be less likely to remember hearing your song.
While a great hook can keep a listener from skipping your song, your relatable and straightforward lyrics are what will get your repeated listens and new fans.
Make sure your song is on relevant playlists
This tip should be self-explanatory, but with so many "paid to get on playlist" services, chances are you can get placed on a non-relevant playlist if you're not careful.
And there is no better way to get your song skipped over than to be on a playlist that doesn't fit the mood or genre the listener expects to hear.
This tip also goes for "influencer" shoutouts and placements. Who cares if a person has thousands of followers if your song isn't the right fit for what their audience wants to hear?
Make sure to do your homework before pitching or paying for particular playlists.
Writing great songs isn't easy, but if you follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to making music that people will want to listen to – instead of skipping over.
Remember, the best way to get people to pay attention to your music is by practicing, writing, and performing as often as possible. The more experience you have, the easier it will be to write songs people want to hear.
Also, let me know in the comments any tips and tricks you have used to get people to pay attention to your music.
Brad Johnson is a musician and producer from Southern California. When he isn’t spending time with his wife and kids at the beach, he is helping songwriters and musicians at Song Production Pros.