Mark Hansen Music - LDS Rock Music - Free Downloads

Mark Hansen Music - LDS Rock Music - Free Downloads
Get the new CD, "The Third Time" HERE

WARNING: Listening to this music doesn't require parental approval. It's a bit of clean rebellion. It keeps your outlook up and your hope alive. It's got strong drums and screaming guitars. It pumps you up and drives your life. It's a hunger for exploration. It chooses the right and returns with honor. It's music you don't have to confess to your bishop.

It's not your parents' "Saturday’s Warrior".

It's "A Joyful Noise"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to shape an LDS Music Album

I’m just finishing up my third album (or my fourth or fifth, depending on where you start counting), and I’m at the stage where I’m mastering the songs, and choosing the order.  There’s a lot of discussion about this, and a lot of theories.

A long time ago, I did a lot of focused listening, and I studied how songs are ordered in the big leagues.  I made a lot of notes, and much of those things I learned ended up being a part of my selection process.  Here are some thoughts.

    * The shape of your album

A song is a song, but an album is a story arc.  It starts, it journeys through the middle, and it resolves at the end.  If you keep that in mind, your album will take shape in a much better way.

    * Primacy and Recency

There’s a psychological concept called “The Primacy Effect” and another one called “The Recency Effect”.  Primacy states that people tend to remember items that are at the top of a list, or first in a series.  Recency states that people tend to remember items that happened most recently.  So, the first song and the last song (the one they’ll have heard most recently if they liste to the entire CD) are going to be critical.

This also reinforces the concept of the shape that I just mentioned.

    * Driving to Work

Back in the day before mp3’s, I would get in my car to go to work, and I would choose a CD that I wanted to listen to on the way.  I would put it in, and it play the first 3-5 songs as I went to work.  Then, I would get out of the car and go to work.

When I was done for the day, I would get in my car, choose another CD to match my mood, and drive away, listening to the first 3-5 songs of that collection.

Do you see my point, here?  The first few songs of a CD are the ones that get the most listening time.  They are very important and must be chosen with care.

    * Branding

Another reason the first few songs of a CD are critical is that they help to brand you.  This is especially true if you’re putting out your first CD.  The first few works that people hear and associate with you will be how they think of you.  Even if it’s your second or third CD, each one will still (hopefully) help you to win new fans, and so they’ll still be the first thing people hear from you. 

    * How I do it:

So, with all this in mind, here’s my thought process as I shape the order of the songs on my CD.

First, I think of myself as an artist, and I decide just how I want to be perceived.  In my case, I want to be thought of as a classic rocker, making LDS music.  If someone listened to the first three songs of this CD, what would they think of me? Since these first few cuts are critical, I choose three songs whose sound fit that image.  They must be loud and driving, and must have an uplifting theme.

It would make no sense for me to start off an album with a couple of soft ballads.  Even though I do write and perform some softer songs, I would rather be thought of as a rocker.

If you tend to make more traditional LDS music, with a softer spiritual focus, then you would do the opposite.  You would not want to start up-tempo. 

I also pick these three songs to be my best written, my best recorded, my hook-iest, strongest songs.  Since these are the ones that will get the most play, and will therefore be the most remembered, I want them to be the most memorable.

In the middle of the journey, I mix it up a bit.  Slow, fast, odd, traditional.  The order of these songs is less critical, and will change more often as I go through the process.

I want to end it on a big finish.  The last song will be something big, maybe a powerful ballad or an up-tempo romp, something that will nicely summarize the entire previous dozen songs.  Because of the Recency Effect, it also needs to be one of my strongest songs.  It must be well-written and well recorded, with memorable hooks.  It needs to help the listener feel like they just got back home after a wild ride and they can walk in the front door and kick off their shoes and relax.  It might even give them something to meditate on while they're resting.

Following this process can help you to make a CD with a stronger impact on your audience.  It will certainly help them to get to know you, as an artist, even better.  And that can change them from casual listeners into solid fans.


Come back often to hear about new songs and shows. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including his Dutch Oven blog: Mark's Black Pot and his LDS pop culture blog: MoBoy blog.

1 comment:

Gary Loren McCallister said...

Great suggestions. Wish I ahd thought about them when i first started. ;-) I will add that for a variety of reasons I have produced a number of theme CD's. Three have been story lines. That, of course changes everything as the songs have to be heard in sequence and the sing has to fit the story. Since hardly anyone ever did this when CD's were popular, and probably never do this now that everything is single downloads, I doubt my thoughts about story CD's have any affect at all. :-)

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