What Songwriters Need to Do To Hit the Target Audience

Are you hitting your target audience?The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” will show you how to get your songs’ structural problems solved.

AudienceIf you spend any amount of time analyzing hit songs from various genres, you know that there’s a sound that sells. That sound is changing all the time, of course. Hit songs from ten years ago don’t sound like hit songs today, and it doesn’t take long for today’s approach to get “long in the tooth”, as they say. What doesn’t change so much is the actual structure of songs. Once you ignore performance style and instrumentation, songs look rather similar on paper, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What is a bad thing is if your finished product uses a performance style and instrumentation that was popular a decade ago. You may think that this is a minor issue; surely ten years isn’t enough to date a song.

Not only does a ten-year-old style date a song, but in the pop music scene it will sink it, and you will entirely miss your target audience.

So this is not so much about songwriting as it is about what happens after the song is written.

I get emails all the time from people asking me why their songs aren’t making a connection with listeners, and why they aren’t building an audience base. 90% of the time, the problem is not with the song itself, but with the sound.

And here’s the thing: not only does a new song with a dated sound get ignored: it gets stomped and spat upon! If you’re wanting to make a splash in today’s hit song market, you’ve got to get current, and stay current.

So how do you do that? My best recommendation is to partner with someone who understands the youth market. After all, it’s the youth (14 to 24-year-olds) that drive today’s pop song market.

There are five ways you can make your songs attractive to the younger demographic:

  1. Partner with a young songwriter. You don’t usually have to tell a young person how to think like a young person. The benefits of working out songs with a young writer are obvious.
  2. Get your songs performed by a young person. Nothing like a person who comes from the target audience as the main communicator.
  3. Listen to today’s hit songs. If you aren’t listening to today’s songs, you’re sound will be dated, it’s that simple. The only way to stay current is to get current. And listening needs to be a daily activity.
  4. Bring young people into the song’s production. Again, you don’t ever need to tell a young person how to think like a young person. Keeping young people close as the song proceeds through the production phase is a great idea. And at the same time, don’t ignore seasoned professionals. Successful “older” producers and musicians have learned a thing or two along the way, and their input will keep the youth from making errors.
  5. Be true to yourself as you write your songs. While there is that youthful target audience out there, keep in mind that songs really only work if they’re saying something that comes from within. Simply copying the latest hit songs because they worked for someone else will be exposed for being pretentious and transparent. Be unique, draw on your experiences, and if you present them with a fresh youthful sound you’ve got a chance at hitting your target audience.


Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website
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  1. I enjoyed your comments and thought they were right on target. Thus I would like follow-up material. So if you write it, I would be interested in
    reading it.

  2. Ten years will date a song — twenty might be retro enough to be cool, thirty is vintage.

    But ten years isn’t only bad, it’s the worst possible. Even songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that are regarded as timeless and beloved today were disliked and considered bad exactly ten years after they were released. It’s the nadir of all music, even the good stuff.

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