If you’re a musician, producer, or just someone who likes to sing in the shower, then you’ve probably wondered: How do songs get popular? It turns out there’s no single answer. A song can become popular through a combination of factors that include its sound and structure, how it’s presented (via video or audio recording), its popularity among social media influencers, and more. But if you want to know what makes your favorite song tick and maybe even help yours become an international hit—here are some things that matter most.
First of all, there’s the music video.
A music video is a short film that features the artist and their song. It’s usually pretty cool to watch! But it also serves a very important purpose: getting a song popular.
The reason for this is simply a lot of people don’t buy albums anymore, so if you’re an up-and-coming artist who wants to reach your audience as efficiently as possible, you have to make sure that people have heard your songs before they even think about buying them. And how do they hear them? Well…through radio stations! But there are only so many times you can play one song on the radio before everyone gets sick of it. So what do you do? You release an album full of songs (and hope they get played), but more importantly…you release a music video filled with all those same tracks! As long as someone watches one video while they’re scrolling through YouTube or another type of media platform (probably Vevo), then chances are good that they’ll become interested in buying something from that artist’s catalog or at least listening more closely next time around.
This is why music videos are so important to artists they’re a way to connect with your audience, give them something entertaining and interesting to watch (and listen to), and help promote your new release. Whether it’s a simple performance video or something more elaborate with lots of special effects, there are numerous ways that artists have used their music videos as an effective tool for promoting their albums.
But that’s expensive, and clips on YouTube or Facebook make it easy to learn dance moves at home. You can hear the song, and see what the dancer is doing. It’s a good way to get a feel for the song before buying it.
Wizkid, for example, is a Nigerian artist whose songs are known to be simple. He often just sings about love and relationships, but he does so in a way that makes it easy to sing along. His music has been described as “the kind of stuff you can dance to at home on your own or with friends.” And though there’s no denying that Whizkid’s songs are catchy (he averages over 50 million views per video), they’re also well-crafted; they’re not overly complicated in any way. They’re very much “the type of thing where kids can listen to them but also adults.
The same goes for other artists who have achieved success through more straightforward approaches: Drake has been known to avoid overly dense lyricism his raps tend toward being easygoing declarations of love or celebrations of friendship over struggling with mental illness. The point here is that sometimes getting people hooked on your work means making sure it feels accessible from the beginning, even if listeners don’t understand every lyric you’ve written or every reference you’ve made in each song, there’s still enough going on within each piece that keeps them engaged with the material itself and wanting more. That’s why it’s important to keep your audience in mind when writing lyrics; if you’re creating something that will be consumed by people who aren’t professional musicians themselves, then you need to make sure there are no barriers between them and enjoying the music.
If you have a song with lots of “Fs” that are hard to sing, start a little lower. If it’s too high, people will sing the wrong words. If you start too low, people won’t be able to hear the words. Just worry about singing along and don’t worry about your range; just sing the song as you hear it.
If you have trouble singing along with some of the songs, try singing the chorus instead. Usually, a chorus is easy to match your voice to because it repeats over and over again. If you’re still having trouble, just ask someone else to sing along with you.
The simple answer to that question is that people love belting out pop songs in the shower, often when they’re feeling sad. It’s easy to understand why this happens: Showering tends to be a private experience where you can let down your guard and indulge yourself in whatever music you want. The soundproof walls of your bathroom allow for uninhibited singing that doesn’t need to compete with other sounds or worry about getting overheard by others and it’s also an excellent way to relieve stress, as one study found that 80% of people feel better after singing their favorite song in the shower (compared with playing sports).
On the other hand, some artists are wary about underestimating their audience. “I’m always trying to avoid writing things that are too complex for a general audience,” says singer-songwriter Nan Goldin. “I don’t want people to have to think too much.” Others worry about overthinking: “You can make a song too complicated by thinking about it too much.”
Singer-songwriter Patti Smith does not write songs with standard lyrics like love or heartbreak because she believes that these concepts are overdone and cliche. Instead, she prefers themes such as nature and childlike joy, which she feels offer more depth than typical pop songs. Similarly, John Lennon once said he wanted his music to be both simple enough for children and deep enough for adults; he believed this was the key to popularity among all ages!
This is a common concern among songwriters. The most popular songs, such as “Essence” by Wizkid ft Tems or “Ye” by Burna Boy, are catchy enough to stick in your head and easy to sing along with but still convey deep themes.
One of the biggest challenges for musicians is understanding how listeners process a song. It’s important to realize that people don’t always know what they like and that they are likely to listen to a song many times before deciding whether they like it. It can be especially hard for artists who have only released one or two songs, because listeners may not have enough context to determine if something new is good or bad. Artists should also keep in mind that people process music differently some people might like the lyrics more than the beat, while others might focus more on how catchy a song sounds when they hear it on the radio.
In the early days of commercial radio, listeners had to wait for their favorite songs to come on. Nowadays, with streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, when you hear a song you like, you can just tap play again. The brain needs time to process music and it’s not just about hearing it once. Most people need around 30 or 40 exposures before they decide whether they like a song enough to add it to their playlist or share it on social media. The more times we hear something (even if we don’t consciously register this repetition), the more familiar we become with it, and familiarity increases liking because our brains prefer things that are familiar over those that are new and different.
The reason we tend to like things more when they’re familiar is because of a psychological phenomenon called the mere-exposure effect. In short, it means that the more times you see or hear something (even if you don’t consciously register this repetition), the more familiar
Sometimes, what listeners say they like isn’t the same thing they listen to. In other words, the preferences of a listener can be a little bit different than his or her actual listening history. This is because humans are creatures of habit and like familiarity the more we hear something, the more comfortable it becomes with us over time. It’s one reason why so many people own multiple versions of the same album by an artist: because we don’t want to have to relearn any new information each time we play an album!
The result is that sometimes random things become popular because people discover them through friends or online communities where everyone agrees on their merits (or lack thereof). Or perhaps there’s just some sort of consensus about what makes a good song so much so that everyone goes along with it despite not liking it themselves
In either case, our listening habits are often more about what other people think is good than what we like ourselves.
The song has to be catchy and easy to remember. If people can’t sing along or repeat the lyrics, it’s unlikely that they will ever think of this song again even if they enjoyed it while they were listening to it at first. The beat needs to be strong and steady so that people can dance along with it whenever they hear the music playing in their head or on a radio station.
And there you have it. A lot of people think that being popular is about luck or talent, but the truth is that it’s more complicated than that. It takes a lot of work and careful consideration to make something that people want to listen to over and over again. But with these tips in mind, you can be sure that your song will reach listeners around the world!