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How to get people to listen all the way to the end of your song

Is your song good all the way to the end? Or will people switch off after the second verse? Here's how to get them to listen all the way through.

This article is inspired by The Christmassy Guy, who was generous enough to write for us a very detailed article on how his song Feeling Christmassy was recorded, in less than promising conditions.

Here's the video again, and you really should listen all the way to the end...

Among several interesting points made by the writer, one concerns how to get people to listen all the way to the end of a song.

You know how things normally work with songs... verse-chorus-verse-chorus, after which there may be an instrumental section but after that everything is pretty much the same. So there is normally little point in listening after the two-minute mark because there won't be anything new.

But not in Feeling Christmassy. At the end you will here a little light comedy that the writer clearly hopes will put a smile on your face and help the song to linger in your memory.

In the original article, the writer mentions Roy Wood, famous from The Move, the Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard, and possibly the most famous Christmas song of all time. Well, since 1970.

I seem to have heard the same radio interview with Roy Wood as mentioned by the writer. Wood said in that interview that he liked to add a little bonus right at the end of a track, to reward the listener for their time. And indeed that bonus might encourage the listener (and radio DJ) to play the song all the way through instead of fading after the second verse.

As a songwriting technique, clearly this has quite a degree of value. Some writers, or arrangers, are lazy and expect their songs to fade. Others create a neat and tidy ending. But introducing fresh material at this point is the mark of someone who really cares about their music.

Perhaps you couldn't do it every time, otherwise it would become a cliche. But once in a while you might like to say 'thank you' to your listener, and give them a little extra, just when they think the song is over.


By David Mellor Thursday December 22, 2011