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This is a guest post from Jennifer Hawkins (aka Jen The Music Maven ). Jen’s career includes expertise in: recording, production, publishing marketing, promotion, branding, merchandising and distribution. Jen currently teaches music business courses at Houston Community College, Spring Branch Campus.

Why I use a 3 step approach to music success that starts with: your music!

The brutal truth about the record biz: a song needs to grab it’s audience in the first 10 seconds. Don’t believe me? Consider this: when you’re surfing radio stations trying to find a good song to listen to…how long do you give an unfamiliar tune before you decide to continue listening or go on to the next one? Answer: the same amount of time label execs, publishers, and A&R execs give new song submissions: 10 seconds.

Picture this: Music publishers, labels, etc. can get anywhere from dozens to hundreds of song submissions per day. This industry is uber-competitive, your song must grab the label personnel’s attention immediately or it runs a very big risk of getting tossed or deleted. It’s been the rule since day 1…when audiences have choices..they’ll choose what ‘grabs them’.

I’ve worked in a publishing office before; my job was screening all submissions and I rarely (if ever) found a song that violated the 10 second rule and was successful. I remember one evening having more than my regular overload of submissions and I took them home with me to finish screening. My sister was observing me as I worked; she didn’t believe that 10 seconds was all it took to screen a song (15-20 if it’s quasi-appealing). So…I challenged her. I gave her the 30 or so songs I’d already screened and rejected. She listened to all of them in their entirety… I made a believer out of her!

The artists listed below have made believers out of all of us: The following songs (spanning over 40 years) all sold over 6 million singles. Most of these songs ‘burst’ into an audience’s conscioiusness, same take a few secs but not much. Listen to the first 10 secs of each and hear what I mean. Each of them sets their emotional tone immediately.

Note also: popular songs talk about common human experiences: Love, romance, pain, jealousy, desire, betrayal, sorrow, rejection, loss, family, injustice, nostalgia, etc. When was the last time you loved a song that didn’t grab you and you couldn’t relate to?

Avril Lavigne: Girlfriend 2007, 7.3 miln
Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean: Hips Don’t Lie: 2006, 10 miln
Eminem featuring Rihanna: Love the Way You Lie 2010, 9.3 miln
Elvis Presley: Hound Dog 1956, 9 miln
The Beatles: I Wanna Hold Your Hand 12 miln 1964

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