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Top 5 Priorities to Make Your Music Stand Out In the Mainstream Industry

The music industry is a highly competitive environment. And before launching a new single, most artists come to the stark realization that there are thousands of songs being released every day. So, there’s a very slim chance to make your music stand out.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

If you’re really dedicated to mainstream music as an artist—and would love to get the fame and fortune that comes with commercial success—then there’s one mantra you’ll have to adopt right now.

You’ve got to become an avid consumer of the charts. You’ve got to make it a daily habit to check out all the music content that’s trending. The idea is to absorb as much as you can from mainstream content, and incorporate the new features into your music.

Girl, Headphone, Smartphone, Music, Lifestyle
Image by Adam Smith

So, in this piece, we’ll be discussing the process of how to write a hit song that stands out, regardless of the genre you specialize in.

If you’ve never taken the time to sit down and ruminate on other styles of music, then you’re in for a treat.

This article will definitely be an eye-opener for any upcoming artist. And we recommend that you allocate at least an hour a day to practice some of the guidelines we will mention below.

Indeed, some of these hacks might be the missing ingredients to your next hit single.

Why It’s Important to Do A Breakdown of Hit-Singles in 2023

Have you noticed that trending music always follows a similar pattern in terms of arrangement and structure?

It’s these similarities through the years that’s created the different sub-genres we’ve come to know and love today.

For example, we have dancehall and ragga; both sub-genres of reggae. There was crunk back in 06, and now there’s trap music in hip-hop today.

In short, we can refer to arrangement as a set of guidelines that artists adopt to create music that’s trending for the general population.

Call it the ‘quick fix’ if you like.

An excellent example of arrangement is how artists in the mainstream industry have adopted 3 minutes and 30 seconds for most of their songs.

Sure, this feature spans back to the radio era; but it still holds merit today.


Because we live in a world where consumers are exposed to multiple distractions and a wide array of selections every second.

So you need to act fast:

Your content needs to be as brief as possible to hook the masses. That’s why intros have become much shorter these days.

Just have a look at the charts right now, and you’ll notice that most songs don’t have an intro longer than 15 seconds.

What’s more, you’ll see that the first verse immediately transitions into the chorus. Even for a song that starts without an intro, the chorus will be sampled 60 seconds into the song.

Makes sense? Definitely!

With a plethora of songs being released every day, people want to instantly know whether they like your song or not.

Plus, our social media addictions haven’t made things easier.

So, if someone decides to listen to your song, it means that you have a tiny window of opportunity to convince them that you’re the real deal.

The good news is that you can easily spice things up to get them hooked with your single.

Why not include a new harmony to the song? Maybe even shift the groove, or eliminate some boring monotone sections.

Now that will spark someone’s interest!

Mind you, it doesn’t have to be a significant change either.

Just something that will elevate the energy levels and tempo of the song while still staying true to the flow.

As such, most chart-toppers have adhered to the structure below:

  • A short intro
  • A transition to the verse and then the chorus. In some exceptional cases, there might even be a sub-chorus.
  • A transition to the bridge, or commonly known as the departure of the song.
  • After this, we proceed to the climax, which is the high-energy section of the song.
  • Lastly, the song finishes off with the conclusion.

So, What’s A Trending in 2023?

For the first time in history, tables have turned.

In 2018, hip hop surpassed pop music to become the most prevalent genre in the mainstream industry.

In turn, many artists and record labels have adopted some of the most common features of hip-hop content to capitalize on the new wave.

This is why most songs that top the charts have the following features.

  • The presence of a sub-bass instrument. For example, TR-808 bass drums.
  • The use of a bouncy drum groove incorporated with syncopated snares.
  • Slow tempos composed in double time.
  • The use of fast-rolling high-hats of the 8th, 32nd, and 64th note rolls.
  • Presence of dark, minor melodies.

YouTube video

There is also another influential genre that’s making waves in the mainstream game.

It’s Island music; namely Latin, Dancehall, and Ragga genres.

In fact, some of the biggest hits of 2018 and 2019 (so far) have greatly been influenced by these genres.

While the type of genre is one mode of influence, the instrumentation is another.

According to recent trends, mainstream consumers seem to prefer songs with instruments such as synth basses, electronic drums, melodic synths, and mallet instruments.

Nevertheless, the classics such as the piano and guitar still hold their own and are usually incorporated in the mix.

One other thing:

You might have a great hit in your hands, but whether it will be a chart-topper is also dependent on the listener’s mood. So timing is everything.

The Top Practices to Incorporate When it Comes to Writing A Great Single

To write a great single, you need to be aware of some of the subtle features that will play a vital part in the equation.

Being Straightforward with the Theme of Your Song

Take a serious look at the first two lines of your content. Imagine if a stranger just came up and wanted to know what your song is all about.

Will the first two lines lay a concrete foundation of the song’s backstory? Or will it leave people scratching their heads and going, “what?”

That being said, keep it kiss. Keep it Simple Stupid.

Make Your Music Stand Out in Every Line

person playing guitar while sitting on area rug
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Gullixson

Have you ever wondered: what does it take to make my music stand out?

Simple: the credibility of your lines and verses.

Do they hold any meaning when you read them out loud? Could they make any sense without the inclusion of other lines from your song?

The idea is that every line should be sensible and stand on its own.

Every line should be a complete and independent picture that describes what your song is all about.

Whether you’ve written a love song or a club banger, good writing never deviates from the message.

Differentiate the length of your lines

Having trouble figuring out how long your lyrics should be? There’s a simple solution. Simply get a sheet of paper and draw a box in it. In this box, start writing your lyrics.

The idea is that if most of the lines are too long such that they near the right side of the box, then your lines are too wordy. And wordy lyrics typically have less rhythm to them.

Ideally, you would want your lines to vary in terms of length and achieve the rugged structure that is common in most songs.

The Number of Lines Between the verse and chorus should be different

A major faux pas is to have identical lines in both the verses and the chorus. Otherwise, how else will your audience tell the difference between the two?

As a rule of thumb, the chorus should always have fewer lines as compared to the verses. That’s because the chorus is the catchiest part of the song that listeners tend to remember. It makes the content more exciting!

Make your Melody Colorful with Chords

Music is all about emotion. As such, every chord in your song should have a sense of vibrancy and feel to it.

In most cases, the presence of a minor chord tends to exude a sense of depression, doubt, and sorrow.

A major chord, on the other hand, exudes a lot of positive feelings, happiness, and excitement.

Most artists prefer to add inversions, suspensions, 9ths or 7ths to give their content more life.

The proper use of chords will also help you find the trendy flow that you’ve been searching for all along.

Nevertheless, don’t be too hasty or elaborate with your chords as it might prove a tad too distracting for listeners.

Ideally, it should be diverse, but not to the point where it sounds like music from Mars!

Bringing the Pieces Together

toddler's playing building block toys
Photo Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema

The bottom line is you have a hit in your hands, but you can hire music promotion services to boost your music on Spotify and YouTube. You need to sample as much trending music that’s out there.

But you don’t have to incorporate everything you come across…

It’s best to always stick to a style that suits your persona entirely. Be trendy, but don’t lose your music essence in the process.

At the end of the day, knowing how to make your music unique in the mainstream industry is all about noticing fashionable trends, tweaking your music to harmonize with them, and keeping relevant to what consumers want.

Scott Boyle

Scott Boyle

Hi, I'm Scott Boyle, a music producer, trumpet player, and marketer with a passion for all things digital. My journey in the industry started when I was just a teenager, tinkering with Ableton Live on my computer. Since then, I've worked with some of the biggest names in the UK, helping them to promote their music through digital platforms. With my expertise in marketing and my love for music, I'm confident that I can help artists take their careers to the next level. I'm always eager to share my knowledge with others and explore new ideas, so feel free to reach out and say hello!


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