Is there a formula for a hit song?…. possibly

An ongoing subject in many songwriting blogs, articles and books as to whether there is a formula for a hit song and the typical conclusion is no. However their are some interesting considerations that can be taken on board when songwriting to potentially make your song hit worthy.

The digital revolution in regards to streaming, downloading and production of music has created a wealth of data that many musicians can use to effectively market their music to their key demographic. But this data can also produce some interesting facts about the songs construction and tonality.

For example Spotify regularly on its blog displays insights relating to the music distributed on their platform. One statistic in particular is the popular keys of songs on its database. Below is a graph that shows the typical keys of songs. In conclusion from looking at this graph you could determine that the most popular key of a song is G major.

Chord Progressions

Its also not a secret that many popular songs use the same chord structure as shown in this video. Remember not all songs are in the same key but this video does reveal a surprising insight into the chord structure that is commonly applied.

Axis of Awesome – Four Chord Song

Audio Insights

This video below is an interesting insight into commonly applied melodies and phrasing. Moving from the 5th to the 3rd interval. An observation that has been noticed in many popular hit songs. 

Possibly something worth applying to your songwriting?

The Millennial Whoop

Genre Statistics

Spotify also reveal some surprising statistics in regards to genres and fanbases. This kind of data is great when considering the style of a piece of music you wish to create (if purely aiming for the most popular) or even help towards developing your marketing campaign when promoting your work. The graph below creates a visual demonstrate of fan loyalty by genre. 

If developing a marketing campaign it is well worth doing some research using some of the insights scattered across Spotifys blog. This type of free information can help you make some important decisions for marketing and get your music towards to your key listeners. 

Authors Conclusion

I intend to update this article over time and share some more observations and insights of my own as well as what I find on the internet. I feel this information that is available to us as musicians can help us make key decisions as songwriters and music publishers. We commonly use data to help us move forward and make marketing decisions in music but its also interesting to consider whether this data when making some key decisions about our songwriting.

Thanks for stopping by.

Students in Industry: Will Gilchrist

Check out Konsole on Soundcloud

Students moving into industry

Will Gilchrist was a former student at Guitar Academy in Petersfield who has recently moved on to study music full time. He is currently involved in many projects and moving into a career into the music industry. We recently caught up with Will who took part in this short interview. 


Introducing Will Gilchrist

What are you doing now? Where you studying and what course?

I am in my third year studying Music Performance and Recording at the London College of Music (University of West London) .

Are you in a band at the moment or done any recording work?

I am currently a keyboard player in a five piece indie/new wave band called 'Konsole'. We also have our single 'Havana' on spotify.

I have also played in several university projects for my classmates.

Why did you start playing guitar?

I was completely influenced to pick up a guitar by watching Mark Knopfler play with Dire Straits on a DVD of 'Live Aid'. I was also constantly exposed to The Shadows as a child due to my Dad being a fan, and found 'Wonderful Land' and 'Apache' also influenced me to start playing.

What are your main influences?

My main influences in terms of guitar playing would be Mark Knopfler, Hank Marvin, George Harrison.

Other influences include Roy Bitton, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Clarence Clemons, John Williams.

Plans for your future in music?

My plan is to graduate and write music for TV and Film, I am a big fan of film music and have achieved my highest grade this year from the 'Music for the Moving Image' Module. I would also like to have a band on the side if possible.

Did you find your lessons at guitar academy beneficial? if so why?

Yes indeed. I always struggled with the theory side of music (especially scales) but with my lessons at the guitar academy I was not only able to learn the scales but also learn how to use them, and which musical situations they are appropriate. This was the case with every theory struggle I had and being able to actually use certain chords/scales/modes helped me learn a lot better.

I'm currently finishing my final projects of Live Sound, Music Management. There's also a Recording Project in which I'm studying into live recordings and musical chemistry between ensembles, and a Performance project in which I'm putting together an indie rock band with a horn section, in the hope of improving my skills as an arranger.


Advice on Practicing


Getting younger students to practice can be a difficult task. Practice for some can be really unappealing. Thats why at Guitar Academy we ensure that every student achieves something in lesson and also teach practical ways to make practicing more enjoyable. This guide is designed to help you plan your practice as well as provide some usual advice to parents.

Our top tips for Practicing

If you struggle to commit to practicing ask your tutor to help plan your practice sessions for you. We have special practice sheets to help you progress. Set achievable weekly goals. Your tutor can help with this and design a daily plan for you to follow.

Practice the same piece everyday to help reach your weekly target.

Practice at shorter intervals but several times a day. This is especially effective for younger students.

When your not practicing make sure you listen to lots of music and watch some live music either online, on TV or at a local music venue.

Tips for Parents

When your child is not practicing make sure you introduce them to music and make discovering new music a positive experience. Share your record collection or listen to the radio in the house. Encourage your child to comment on the music they hear.

Try not to alter the practice material set by the tutor. Enhancing with more material from other sources and coaching your child at home can sometimes be counter productive and put a lot of young students off. Although you may have good intentions some younger students can be put off extra training that may conflict with the advice from a tutor. Therefore it is safer to follow the guidance provided solely by the tutor.

Exposure to life music especially visuals such as live performances on TV and online can be a positive stimulus for younger students. Reward your child for achieving their weekly targets and try to make the reward educational and music related.

Recording Software Run Down

The Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Software rundown.

Here is a run down of some awesome pieces of software to help you start recording and mixing audio. Just a general overview of whats out there to help you decide

Protools – £499 average

Awesome piece of kit and used in a huge amount of studios. Pricey but loads of functions. Not as user friendly as its competitors but a professional and good quality software. If you have the time to get the hang of its layout then this is for you.

Logic – 139.99

Mac only so immediately a restriction. But to be fair if you produce music or do anything creative you probably already have a mac. A lot cheaper than its competitors and extremely user friendly. Does lack some desirable tools but can be sold with the integration of third party software. I feel this software is great for composers and musicians that work a lot with midi as well as audio.

Cubase – £499 average

Everyone I encounter seems to be un thrilled by this program. But I must admit its the bridge between logic and protools. More user friendly than protools but more feature packed that logic. Well at least tools you would use professionally.

Reaper – $60

A budget piece of software but well designed. Around $60. A great starting block for the strapped for cash producer. Also works with third party plugins and also user friendly.

Audacity. – FREE

This is fine for recording audio. Low tech design as its Free. Has a good amount of tools but again not really for anything complex. But if your just tracking to make demos, voiceovers, video audio etc. This is good and also a good place to start to get an idea on how audio production software works.

Garage band – £8.99

Mac only again but not expensive and comes with most macs. Create for starting to make music. Loads of tools and software instruments for anyone wishing to make music. Lacking professional tools but extremely user friendly. If you like garage band the next step is logic.


This run down is in no particular order. Just an over view of software available to the recording musician.The best thing you can do is download a demo of these programs and simply have a play! they all pretty much behave in the same way. Personal preference and also your intended use will ultimately help you decide which one is for you.

Essential Kit for Guitarists


Its a fact that your a Guitarist now or soon to be one. Your gonna need some cool kit. Here is our low down on what you need and what you don't.


You will break your strings. They will even get rusty and black and lose their tone when all the dead skin from your fingers cling to them. So get some spares. Most electrics come with a gauge 10. But if you want something a little lighter to play then why not try a 9?

If your looking to get more metal or have hands made of steel then try thicker strings. But BEWARE! changing the strings from a 10 to 9 or vice versa is no big deal. Going bigger may compromise your guitar set up and intonation. So seek professional advice before attempting the tranisition.

A Tuner

You can't carry your teacher with you. So buy a tuner. They come in all shapes and sizes and designs. But get a digital chromatic tuner and your all set. The most important thing you need to do every time you play is tune your guitar.

A slight breeze (change in temperature), putting it in a case, or knocking it will put your guitar out of tune.


You will want to play a song that uses a capo.

So get one! We recommend the daddario ns capo or artist capo. You can also get some cheaper ones on ebay for a couple of quid. But in our experience. Buy cheap buy twice.

Also don't use the capo as an excuse not to learn bar chords!


A good guitar lead is also essential. Get a good quality one! Go for a well respected brand name and you can't go wrong. Cheap leads off ebay will let you down. Especially when your playing in front of loads of people. They seem to know when to make you look foolish.

A Case or Gig Bag

Protect your investment with a good padded case or hard case. Standard really.

A Tutor

You can learn quicker with a Teacher 😉

Vince, Sam and Ben are here to help.

One Minute Bass Lick Lesson

Want to learn a cool bass lick in a minute? Then watch this...Download the Transcription Below.Bass Lick 1   
Here are some of our one minute lessons showing you how to play some cool bass licks.