How is a pop song made?

Forget the myth of the inspired composer. Today, creating a musical hit is like making sausage: there’s a multi-step production line and the final merchandise always sells well. Know every step of this million dollar industry.

  1. It all starts when the label decides that one of its artists needs new material. Without commitment, she asks for tracks from a professional producer who specializes in this kind of task. It can be oriented to compose a certain type of music or create freely.
  2. The producers create the base of the music, with the beat and a bass line. They have their own studio and work on their own. Nor are they lonely: doubles are very common, like the Neptunes (which they’ve written for Justin Timberlake) and the Xenomania.
  3. Depending on demand, record companies even organize “camps” with multiple professionals to generate multiple songs at once. Many producers are also artists, such as the indie band Miike Snow, responsible for composing Britney Spears’s hit song “Toxic”.
    Curiosity: The more famous a song gets, the better for the producer, which will attract more potential customers.
  4. With the base ready, top-liners come in, creating melody and lyrics. They can be searched by the producers themselves or by the label – it is common for the company to send the base to dozens of them. Composer interpreters, such as Adele, can dispense with top-liners and work directly with producers.
  5. The material recorded by the top-liner is a demo, a practically ready song. Because the label only picks one out of dozens, rejected top-liners can offer their tracks to other artists. Beyonce’s “Halo” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” were made on the same basis.
    Curiosity: The top goal of a top-liner is to put on a song with a great artist. This way he grows in the branch.
  6. It is common for the track to be retouched by other composers – Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny from the Block” had 11 authors. As this is repeated with most recorded songs, the number of songwriters credited to an album varies greatly – Rihanna’s Loud album has 37.
  7. Because the biggest stars usually have little time to work on the songs, the final versions of the tracks are recorded in various locations. Rihanna’s “Talk That Talk” was recorded in four places, including two hotel rooms and the tour bus.
  8. Song authorship defines who profits from copyright and is generally divided between producer and top-liner. Sometimes the performer can make changes and also come in as the author. The money comes from shows, use in advertising, film, radio and TV.

Each step determines the final quality of each song produced. If likened, creating a song is like making a luxury watch such as the Longines Conquest. There are various stages that must be passed carefully. Hopefully this short article can give you an idea of how a part of the music industry works. Thank you for reading.


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