Why are the first 30 seconds of a recording so important? In today's fast paced world of digital streaming those first impressions will determine if someone will take the time to listen to the entire song or not. With such easy access to so much music right at our fingertips it's becoming more and more difficult to keep a listeners attention for an entire song. Here are a few suggestions about how to make those crucial first 30 seconds unforgettable.
Get to the Point
Most all songs have strong points and weaker points, the strong points being what catches the listeners ear and makes them react (either to keep listening or move on). Whatever the strong point is in your song, it is a good idea to use this within the first 30 seconds in one way or another and then repeat it periodically throughout the song. This is one of the tools you can use for creating a good single. For example if you have a song that has an outstanding, catchy melody, hook, or phrase but it doesn't come in until half way through the recording, you are basically reducing the probability that people will hear that strong point of your song, or the song in it's entirety. Using long intros with out diving into the heart of the song straight away can work beautifully in a live setting but it's not really as effective on a recorded track. Often people will feel within the first seconds of the song if they will enjoy the rest of the song and even an entire album.
The Ringtone Test
One way to test the effectiveness of the first 30 seconds of your song is to play it as a ring tone on your cell phone. When it rings observe the reactions of the people around you and see what people think of it. Does it grab attention? Is it pleasant? Is it irritating? Is it even noticeable? Watch how your friends respond with out telling anyone what the music is and you will discover how strong of an attraction your 'First 30 Seconds' carries. If it is compelling and people seem to notice it in a positive way than you can share it with your fans and they will share it with there friends, which is another simple and effective way to spread your name and music to more listeners.
Words are music too and they carry within them all the components of song. The rhythm, the melody and the meaning. Using rhythm in your lyric writing is a crucial element when making your song super catchy. It's how people remember songs over the decades. That is the secret magic of children's nursery and folk songs. The rhythmical lyrics function also as a melody that is easy remember and fun to sing along with. You want to have this kind of accessibility from the very start of your track.
So consider using words in your lyrics that create a rhythm and rhyme pattern all on there own even without instrumentation and you will see how strong your song will become.
I Wish I Was Special
If there is any special sound, phrase, lick, hook or remarkable element in your song, see if it can somehow work within the first 30 seconds. For example during the intro to Nancy Sinatra's version of These Boots Are Made for Walkin' the descending guitar line is super special because it is so memorable and catches the listeners attention directly by musically and sonically giving the impression of boots that are actually walking. This phrase then repeats at the end of each stanza through out the song reinforcing it's novelty. Subtle special musical ingredients right at the intro can be powerful and seductive. Such as in the song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen where the artist plays a very simple and even subtle and sparse piano phrase. These couple of notes stick in your mind immediately allowing for the lyrics and voice to carry the emotion and story to you gracefully.
If you are serious about getting people to listen to your music than you don't have time or bytes to waste. You may think that the long intro to your song by the string quartet and horn solo is exciting and it may very well be wonderful but most listeners when searching for new music to listen to in a digital record shop won't waste any time in moving on if they don't experience the core substance of your music within the first 30 seconds. So don't make any fancy frills or any unnecessary embellishments on your track just because you are trying to capture someones attention. The strength of your music will be in it's authenticity and aesthetic. A crazy, wild, or unusual sounding intro may catch the listener for a moment but when it finally drops into the heart of the song the listener could move on to something else if the intro doesn't correlate as a vital working organ in the body of the song as a whole. In other words don't try and bait the listener, make it genuine from the very beginning.
When We First Met
First impressions are lasting. The very first feeling one gets when they meet someone else usually will determine how compatible the two people are, even if not consciously. The same goes with music. The first thing you hear from a new artist needs to be who they really are and what they represent. In closing, I'd like to recommend listening to The White Stripes - I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends as a last example of getting to the point and making it count. Even the songs title is sung within those first 30 seconds and it becomes hard to forget because basically it is the whole song in a nutshell.
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