• What Makes a Hit?

    THE music industry is fast-paced, fickle, and ultracompetitive. Musical tastes change, hits grow stale, and new tastes and technologies supersede the old. Promoters “are always looking for the hottest new sound,” says social-media expert Kelli S. Burns. But turning that “sound” into a hit is not easy. “A lot of kids dream of becoming recording stars, . . . but it’s often a long, tough road between the dream and the recording contract,” says an industry guidebook.​—See the box “Changes in the Music Industry,” on page 6.

    Putting Words to Music

    Songwriters (1) aim to write lyrics that touch people’s emotions​—that resonate with their hopes, dreams, and deepest feelings. What is the most popular theme? You guessed it​—love. Songwriters also try to create melodies with a hook, a catchy musical phrase that grabs the listener’s attention and lingers in the mind.

    Next, the songwriter usually makes a pilot recording, or demo, of the song. If the record-company executives think that the song is marketable, they may offer the artist a recording contract (2). But if they have reservations about the singer (perhaps he or she is not well-known), they may buy the song for an established artist to perform.

    Into the Studio

    To oversee the recording process (3), record companies usually hire an experienced producer. He approves the song and style. He also hires and supervises the recording studio, music arrangers, copyists, musicians, backup vocalists, recording engineers, and equipment needed to produce a professional and salable product.

    Most recordings are assembled step-by-step, often beginning with drums, guitar, bass, and keyboard. Later, lead vocals, harmonies, instrumental solos, and any special sound effects are added and mixed to produce a master digital recording (4).


    To promote their products, record companies often produce music videos (5). These three- to five-minute films may provide some of the excitement of a live show and give artists media exposure. They may also generate significant income in their own right.

    Recording artists consistently sell more albums in areas where they give live performances (6). So they often promote a new album by going on tour and putting on concerts. Most artists also create a personal Web site (7) complete with music samples, photos, videos, a personal blog, and news of upcoming concerts, as well as links to fan clubs and, most important, to online music stores.

    Who determines if a song will be a hit? Ultimately, it is you​—the listener. On what basis, then, do you choose your music? Is it just the sound or the artist, or do values also influence your choices? These are important questions, for music has power and can influence us on the deepest levels. This fact calls to mind some important advice from our Creator: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.”​—Proverbs 4:23.

    How can you heed that wise advice in regard to music? And if you are a parent, how can you fulfill your responsibility to safeguard your children from spiritual, mental, and emotional harm?

    [Box on page 6]

    Changes in the Music Industry

    The Internet and inexpensive recording hardware and software are contributing to a revolution in the music industry. Nowadays, musicians are able to record professional-quality music at home and to distribute it to a global audience. According to a report in the magazine The Economist, “several big-name artists bypassed the record labels altogether.”

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