This past Friday, producer David Foster did an interview with Tom Power on the CBC Radio show ‘Q.’ Toward the end of that interview, this was said:
DF: “Well, you know, Quincy Jones, what he said about having a hit record? ‘Quincy, what’s the three elements you need for a hit record?’ ‘Well, let me think about it, David. Number 1 is the song, and number 2, by the way, is the song, and number 3, by the way, is also the song.'”
TP: “Do you think a bad artist can make a good song great?”
DF: “I think a bad singer can have a hit with a great song. I think a great singer cannot have a hit with a bad song.”
That’s something I’ve always believed. It’s all about the song, and your success begins and ends with how good that song is.
In addition to that statement about a bad singer having a hit with a great song, I’d add that a great song can fail if it’s poorly recorded and produced, no matter who’s singing it.
And the bad singer? That person can only have a hit if the song is recorded well and produced well. Someone needs to be able to identify a song’s potential, and know how to draw it out.
All that time you’re spending on songwriting, trying to be a better songwriter? That is time well-spent. Think of any good producer you know of, the ones who’ve worked with artists who’ve had hit after hit. Sure, they got to work with those amazing musicians, but what really made those producers legendary was that they were working with great songs.
So if you’re concentrating on gear, or if you’re trying to get more “likes” for your tunes, you are probably focusing on the wrong thing.
The road to success in the pop music industry can be complex and tricky, but no matter if you’re the writer, the producer, the performer, the engineer, the arranger, or the manager, it all starts with a great song.
And if you are focused right now on trying to write better songs, you’re doing exactly what you need to be doing.
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