How to write hit songs: what to include and why

Having a number one single is often the biggest dream of songwriters. It takes a hit song to earn enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life, but this is difficult to do.

Numerous industry specialists have devoted their entire careers to studying number one singles over the years. They did this in order to find a pattern between those who have succeeded and those who were never heard.

What has been discovered is that there is a set of guidelines or a formula that songwriters can adhere to to guarantee the greatest possible commercial success for their music. It doesn't ensure that a song will reach the top spot, but it does set it up for success should the chance present itself.

Hit songs characteristics

Song duration

The length of a song appears to be a key component of the successful songwriting strategy. A track that is too long will lose the listener's interest quickly. The listener shouldn't miss or forget your track, but you also don't want it to be too quick.

Song duration

The average length of a #1 single is between three minutes and three minutes and half. Rarely does a number one song clock in at more than four minutes or less than two minutes. Therefore, if you need to stretch things in any way, make sure to do it within those bounds.

Quick to the chorus

The majority of listeners aren't interested in the verses; instead, they want a song that they can sing along to. In other words, they seek the song's chorus or hook.

They will rapidly lose interest if you wait too long to start this section. This issue can be resolved by moving on to the chorus as soon as feasible. This process ought to take, on average, 45 seconds and, at most, 1 minute.

Many pop artists start their songs with the chorus or at least a hook to immediately grab listeners' attention in order to play it extra safe with this aspect of the songwriting formula.

Great hooks

Perhaps the most crucial component of the successful songwriting technique is a catchy hook. It also serves as a fantastic beginning point for writing songs.

Great hooks

The hook, which should summarize the entire song, is the main element that your listeners will remember. Consider it the portion that they would sing to their friends to try to explain it in a few seconds.

Major key

A song's success may depend on whether it is in a major or minor key. After examining the top songs of the previous year (2021), we discovered that the bulk of them were written in major keys.

Our basic hypothesis is that people prefer to listen to music that uplifts them rather than music that depresses them. Even if the music has more depressing lyrics, a major key can make that happen.

135 BPM

It is also well recognized that a song's tempo affects whether or not it will chart well. Despite this, the most popular songs are both upbeat and slower, each with a different optimal speed.

The recommended pace for an upbeat music a few years ago was 120 BPM, and this is still a fantastic place to start. The tempo of number one hits, however, has increased recently. Fast-paced songs currently have an average BMP of about 135 BPM.

Short and simple verses

The easier a song is to understand, the better it is for learning the formula for making hits songs. The verses will be more memorable and relatable if they are written simply.

Short and simple verses

Additionally, a brief verse will enable you to get to the major event (the hook) even faster. Just be sure that, despite their simplicity, your verses continue to enrich the song. The progression of a song's narrative is nevertheless greatly helped by the verses.

Include pre-chorus

One significant drawback of short verses in pop music is that they can significantly shorten song length. The pre-chorus is the solution to this.

The pre-chorus will intensify the enthusiasm that the chorus will bring. While the lyrics can vary each time, it's typical to keep the pre-chorus the same as the song develops. Because it fosters familiarity, this is frequently the better option.

What determines the success of a song?

Relate to the audience

Songs appeal to us because they are evocative of our own unique experiences. Condensing complex emotions into digestible, emotionally accessible poetic words is the art of songwriting.

As a songwriter, what could you say that would quickly cause the audience to feel as though they know you or the experience you're describing?

Relate to the audience

It sounds familiar

There are many of us who enjoy hearing new music. It's crucial to remember, that the vast majority of casual listeners are more tuned in to tried-and-true songwriting techniques.

It's quite OK and even beneficial to draw inspiration from other musicians and songs. Although you'll undoubtedly want to develop your own songs, drawing inspiration from popular chords, melodies, and song structures can help you create some of your best work.

It brings something new

The best tunes are just familiar enough to win over skeptics and just new enough to win over devoted fans. Discovering your distinctive perspective is important whenever you are producing music. Why is your song unique? Is it a song's composition? The song's relatable subject? The reason why your song separates out from the competition should be clear.

It brings something new


Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed formula to write a number-one song that will always be successful. Beyond the music itself, a lot of other factors also have a role in a song's success.

However, by sticking to the recommendations given above, your music will be simple to understand, catchy, and memorable—all qualities that are necessary for a hit song.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post, and if you'd want more career-related guidance, on our blog section, there are many more beneficial articles, advice, and recommendations to be found.

You are undoubtedly here because you love music, so please take advantage of the chance to listen to it while interacting with other users via webcams in CalypsoRoom.

Are you a music artist or label and do you want to give your music a further dimension? Do you own or co-own the master and publishing rights to your music? Consider to post it on CalypsoRoom listening to it together with your super fans, at the same time, connected by webcams.

Thanks for reading,
CalypsoRoom Team


Written by CalypsoRoom Editorial Team
The CalypsoRoom Editorial Team is a skilled and diverse group of writers, researchers, and industry specialists who have access to Calypso's data and information in order to give you broad knowledge about the music industry as well as helpful advice to help you manage your music and dancing career.

Updated January 2023

How to write hit songs: what to include and why

#musicartists #musiccareer


I agree to to the newsletter Privacy Policy
New music experience
Meet new people listening together the same music

© 2024 Calypsoroom, Inc.
Company number: 681223
James's Walk 31, Dublin, Ireland
+353 (89) 435 8928

Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Cookie Policy