How a Radio Hit is Made By Jackson Maddox

Today's music industry has become a well oiled machine. Record label executives know exactly how to make a hit song. From teams of writers, tried and true chord progressions, to catchy lyrics, the formula is so foolproof that they don't even bat an eye when shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it happen.

When first creating an album for a singer (in the realm of Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, or Rihanna), a record label will rent out about 10 different studios around the country and fill it with the best songwriters and producers that they have on tap.

This can cost up to $25,000 per day ($2500 per studio) but the results are quick. There were over 40 different people working to create the music for Rihanna's 2010 record "Loud."

Once the melody and lyrics of the song are decided upon, the tracks are mixed and mastered by the producers. Producers can make up to $20,000 per track and the songwriters usually make around $15,000.

Once a decent number of songs have been made, the artist is called in to pick their favorite ones. The record label will always guide this process because they have teams of people doing market analysis to determine the best selling songs of the bunch.

Once the songs are picked, the artist will go into the studio with vocal producer and record all of their vocal parts.

Vocal producers work with the artist to get the best sounding takes for each track. They can get paid $10,000-$15,000 for each track that they produce. After this, the song is finished and ready for marketing.

DID YOU KNOW? While most songs are recorded by their intended artist, some are actually rejected and recorded by another artist. For instance, both "Telephone" and "Umbrella" were supposed to be recorded by Brittney Spears, but she turned them down and they were recorded by Lady Gaga and Rihanna respectively.

When the label is ready to start advertising, executives get together and decide where to allocate funds.

Labels will pay for the song or album to be advertised as a banner on iTunes...

...and put on billboards all over big cities.

They will also have the artist go play some free radio shows...

...and give interviews afterwards. Sometimes it takes a free radio show and interview, plus a fancy dinner for the radio execs to get the song put on the station, but usually this tactic is used for further exposure.

All of this combined makes the song or album so visible that it is almost impossible for the general public to not be exposed to it.

All in all marketing a mainstream pop song can cost upwards of $1,000,000 for a record label, but the returns on that investment make it all worthwhile.

This pie chart better explains how all of the money is distributed amongst the many people who work on making the song or album happen.

Even after all of this trouble and effort, there is still no guarantee that the song will be a hit. Fortunately for record labels, they have the process down to such a science that it is virtually impossible for them to not make their money back on the next intended hit album or song.


Created with images by Pexels - "audience backlit concert" • Timeface - "audio recording sound studio" • Unsplash - "soundboard board sound" • Uberto - "Martin Dj alla console nello studio del "M,A&S" di Milano per la diretta della "carovana on the road" di Radio Studio Piu'" • kevin dooley - "Waiting for Tom Chapin, 2014" • Activ-Michoko - "mixing table-mixing music" • Pexels - "blur close-up electronics" • toddpoirier - "paul david hewson singer bono" • AMagill - "meeting pan" • TheCoolQuest - "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" • neate photos - "the Bent Moustache at Un-Peeled" • blmurch - "Copyleft Musicians interviewed on La Tribu Radio"

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