A hit is something you can’t get out of your head, that you have to play again and again. In the old days it meant twisting the radio dial till you could hear it, or running to the record store to buy it, now it involves going online to stream it. A hit may or may not be played on the radio. A hit may or may not be in the Spotify Top 50. But a hit engenders conversation, you tell everybody you know about it, you implore them to listen to it, to feel the joy, to become part of the club. Every musical act should strive to write a hit. You know it when you do it, after you have some experience that is. At first you believe everything you do is a hit. But as you acquire skill you realize hits are hard to come by. Sometimes a hit is in the song, sometimes a hit is in the recording. Or sometimes it’s both. True hits don’t sound like anything that came before, they might be a synthesis of what once was, or reference what once was, but the public is excited by the new and different, that will never change. A hit can be a an album cut. A hit can have no album. People know when they hear a hit, they smile, they become energized, sometimes they dance. The music envelops them, changes their view, the outside world disappears, although maybe the tune might make people think about an old love or an old experience from their life. You can play the radio game, but at this point in time terrestrial stations are lost in the past, like the CD. They don’t go on records unless you have a track record. They don’t play anything but that which sounds similar to what they’re already playing. Streaming focuses on hip-hop, you can follow the trend or go another way. If you go your own way you cannot bitch about people not playing your cut. The goal is to see whether listenership increases. That’s what’s so great about streaming, you can see it, in real time. If someone buys something, you can never know whether they played it or not. Even if a hit is a sleeper, if it’s not adopted by the audience right away, if you know a track is brilliant your audience will ultimately adopt it, even though that may take years. Today it’s best not to second-guess the market, in a world where consumers are in control. Promote the hit, not the song that is upbeat or what is like what middlemen are focusing on. Also, do not bitch if you cannot write a hit, it’s your fault, not the audience’s. The audience is never wrong, if they hear something great they eventually adopt it. And history is littered with cuts that were not chart hits, did not get much radio play, if any at all, and are still hits. People talk about Tesla because it creates hits, no one talks about the Chevy Cruze. You talk about “The Bodyguard,” not the shows the media tells you to pay attention to. And why should anybody in the media be an expert on music? The audience knows. Sure, if you’re cutting edge and different traction might take a while. And there are acts plying the boards making reasonable money who’ve never written a hit. But when you record a hit, your whole world changes, everybody wants a piece of you. Go for it.
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