Friday, August 15, 2014

The Odds of Writing A Hit Song

The Odds of Writing A Hit Song by Roy Elkins

I recently reviewed a list of the current Top 100 songs. Every once in a while I do this just to see how many solo writers appear on the charts. And I am always curious to see how many writers were involved in creating those songs. On the list I was viewing from a pop list in the third week of July, only 94 songs had writers listed, 6 of the songs, the writer field was blank. Of those 94, 359 writers were listed as collaborators. That is just about 4 writers per song. Only 8 songs listed 1 writer. Of those 8 songs, all were written by the artist who performed them.

Of the 359 writers, 281 were unique. Of the 281, 235 only contributed to just 1 song. 46 had more than one song on the chart. Two writers, Lukasz Gottwald & Henry Walter both contributed to 7 songs.

So the first statistic: A solo writer has a 0% chance of getting a song on the charts if they are not the performer. Now remember, that's just the odds. Although no one has ever played in all 4 professional major sports leagues, it's still possible. If you're a solo writer and not the performer. you still have a chance, but it's a very slim one.

Of those 94 songs, 9 main genres were represented.  For this blog, I took the liberty and combined some similar genres.  Here is the breakdown by genre:
Country - 25 songs on the chart (2.96 writers per song)
Pop - 22 (3.5)
Electronic Dance - 18 (5.5)
Hip Hop - 13 (4)
R & B - 9 (3.33)
Rock - 5 (4)
Folk - 1 (1)
Reggae 1 (5)

Second stat - If you are writing Country or Pop, you have a 50% chance of getting a song on the charts, if you are willing to collaborate with at least 2 other writers.

Years ago, I worked for a company and was an artist rep with numerous successful artists and songwriters.  One guy, who is now in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, said that he didn't feel he had written a good one until he had composed over 100 songs. It was clear that the more successful he became, the more critical he was of his work. Most great writers believe that their next song is going to be the best they have ever written. But more importantly, most understand that their best work is a collaboration with others.

My point with this. If you are writing by yourself, remember the odds are very slim. Remember that collaborating and listening to other perspectives, always makes a project better. It makes us stretch and hear things differently.  And finally, it increases our chances for success.

Press & educational links – Hangout June 6, 2014, “Blanket” Music Licensing, Examiner, Isthmus Rock The Vote, Broadjam 6-Pack, Celebrating Sonic Foundry, Some Of The Best, More Of The Best, Getting Your Music Into Film, Project Famous – Great Photographer, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms


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