Schools Training

The Secret Story of a Pop Hit

19 FEB 2013
Career Path : Audio Engineering

You have certainly heard pop hits in your time, but you may have wondered how they become so wide spread. Artistic serendipity producing good quality would seem like an obvious answer, but if you’re at all familiar with music you’d know that among the music that is popular, many, many more songs are produced of equivalent quality that never make it onto the radio, much less into popular consumption. A hit is actually a very carefully managed product, handled by a team of experts, from marketing gurus to people with advanced DJ training.


Songs might be produced by a pop group, but more often than not, the performer is simply an expert at looking good on the stage. They may be a talented singer, or dancer, or simply suit a particular look. Advances in technology like Auto-tune mean that even the least pleasant voice can be made to sound melodious, or even dubbed over completely with another singer.


The songwriter usually has a background in music via formal training, for example a graduate of a compositional program or a sound engineering school. The star, who will perform the hit, will probably have come from a more image based background, for example a modeling agency or the pageant circuit. While the former works in their studio, the latter, often bound by contract, is at the behest of a bevy of style and lifestyle consultants who employ them to give the product the right look and image.


This star generally does not get the same degree of royalties as the song writer. The star will often be under a strict contract with the studio that manages them. This studio will supply them regularly with music to perform, book their tours and so on. The star will do a huge amount of publicity photography, including banked images. Meanwhile there will be fairly talented professional musicians and mixing artists, also employed by the studio, making the actual music. The star may simply be called in to sing, or even only make public appearances and put their face on the album cover. This alone often isn’t enough. Instead the studio will ensure success in other ways.


They will organize promotional events to make their product seem like it was already popular. Professional organizers, the kind that went to an event management school, will create the idea of fashionable crowds enjoying the song, even rounding up model level attractive extras to pack parties and clubs and be filmed feigning having fun.


This is especially pronounced in countries that use the idol system.  But this doesn’t necessarily mean all pop hits are fake. In fact, if you enjoyed the music of a seemingly one hit wonder, take a peek at the album notes for information on who wrote what.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find the team has created other great things.Aafter all they did go to sound engineering school.



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