How to Make Better Songs

by Andre Gonsalves

The purpose of every artist should be to keep making better music. That’s it. Not selling more albums, making more money or doing more shows. The world doesn’t need anymore of any of that. We have enough band t-shirts and rap mixtapes. Thank you very much.

What the world does need and is sorely lacking in is: better music. 99.9% of music sucks. How do I know this? Because anytime we hear a song thats great, we run out and tell everyone we know. I also know that doesn’t happen very often. And it shouldn’t.

Greatness is the minority. Greatness is the 1%. Contrary to what you were told in little league everyone is not a winner. Basically your music sucks and you will never have millions of adoring fans unless you do one thing. And that is of course, make better music. Music so good that it is better than 99% of crap.

Is 10,000 Hours Enough?

But how do you do that? Many people will say, “practice makes perfect”. Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “The Tipping Point” even gave the amount of 10,000 hours of practice as what separates the greats from the amateurs. Sure practice helps. You obviously can’t be good at something if you haven’t put in the hours. But is their all there is to it?

As an audio engineer I hear tons of acts that have over 10,000 hours of practice but they still haven’t made it yet. Why is that? Could they be devoting their time and energy to the wrong pursuits? You can put 10,000 hours into vocal training, 10,000 hours into rehearsing, 10,000 into song writing and producing and you will still not have come up with a hit.

How to Make a Hit Song?

How do you come up with a hit? The only thing that matters that connects the hitmakers of the world is not that they have put in 10,000 hours but that they have all lived interesting lives.

The reason your songs do not become popular is because you have not lived an interesting life to have experiences to make great songs. All your songs are trying to sound like someone else’s interesting life. You’re a copy. All 10,000 hours is going to do is make you a better copy. Not an innovative originator!

While this may sound depressing, the good news is you can change this. You can get more life experiences by saying, “Yes” more and “No” less. “Hey want to go see this obscure emo dance rap artist at the shitty warehouse on the otherside of town?” “Yes”. “Hey what if we add a 7 minute ukele section right here?” Yes”. “Should I wear a blonde wig tonight”. “Yes”.

The Power of Yes

Pretty much say, “Yes” to any and everything that wont get you killed or thrown in jail. Even still the things that almost get you killed and almost thrown in jail are pretty awesome life experiences which if you learn from can only make you a more original and better songwriter.

Before we go there is one caveat and that is you can live an incredibly boring life and still make great and interesting songs. The trick is to be able to make your boring life interesting to the world.



Andre is the head audio engineer at ADG Mastering, which he helped found in 2012. For the last 10 years, he has made it his mission to empower aspiring artists and musicians from around the world. You can see more of Andre's writings on our Blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *