The Pop Music Formula & The Marketing Process | Music Marketing
Ever think about how that infectious hook comes together or that earworm that has an almost nursery rhyme like quality? Despite the sometimes-lasting frustration of having it in your mind, and the radio station that plays it way too much, “Popular” or Pop music is an intriguing culmination of art, technology and marketing that is the soundtrack to modern life. Pop music is not genre specific and can apply to any music designed to be strong, simple and easy to remember.
An intentionally formulaic approach:
It may be sometimes criticised as a formulaic process and not even “true music” by musician standards, however there’s an extreme amount of marketing and design knowledge to be gained from this process. At a high level there are risks, budgets and a marketing goal in place. They are creating for the “market” not just themselves.
It’s a highly agile and iterative process. If you observe the process in the studio, it’s filled with collaboration, experimentation, and rapid iteration of ideas. It may start with a beat, a chord progression, a vocal sample an idea that inspires. There’s a systematic checking off all the elements that influence a great outcome.
Grammy award winning producer Oak Felder talks through this process and how to create a viral song:
Traditionally this was done in a studio. Maybe, someone plays an idea they’ve been working on, another throws down some lines with amazing flow or tone – there’s an excitement, electricity and respect for everyone in the room. Every small milestone is acknowledged and celebrated.
Applying key marketing process learnings
These days the process is almost as convenient remotely and amazingly collaborative utilising digital tools to collaborate almost seamlessly, anywhere – anytime.
After all the aim of this process is a product, that should emotionally connect with an audience.
The two key elements to learn here is that success comes always seems to come back to timing and team.
Great producers work a long time honing their craft and skills, immersing themselves in a style of music/culture. It’s seems when they find the right singer/talent that they can achieve mainstream success and take off seemingly overnight. Finding this value alignment can seem a long and hard road.
By this point they’ve all done their 10,000 hours – however they understand great things can only happen with the right team. There is also a very strong drive, passion in work ethic. It’s a given to be able to succeed.
You have, singers, songwriters, arrangers, producers, engineers. They know the rules, but they know in order to separate to be different they need to push further – break the rules.
They throw back to nostalgia, they tweak on existing ideas they push forward and create sounds and ideas that innovate. The need to know who to emotionally connect with the end listener in exactly the right way.
It’s an exhausting and fatiguing process. The most amazing part of this process is the rapid generation of ideas, that feedback into improvement and genuine excitement and appreciation of working with a similar mindset.
Incremental progression is made once synergy is achieved, the vibe felt and everyone excited to move on. There may be possible constraints with respect to labels, however the process is to achieve.
Timing is critical in Pop. You really need to understand trends and know when something will hit. The factors and journey’s that bring the right people, their understanding of their craft and market to synergise and drop the right track at the right time is almost instinctive. There’s a gravitation toward this outcome that almost scarily lines up. Ideas are intuitively held onto until the right time.
Being too soon or too late is a concept that very much understood and is extremely important. In our process – our client’s and the brands we work with are the stars. They’re the ones we want to produce and see and hear everywhere. The ones we want everyone to be talking about.
We’re hopefully the names on the (now obsolete in this digital age) album liner notes that take satisfaction in being part of their amazing journey. We’re their greatest fans and looking forward to the opportunity more time in the studio with them should we still maintain enough relevance to make the next hit with them.