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Scope Series 4 RTÉ Two, Thursday, 7.00pm

Hit Song Science

HSS sample reportHit Song Science (HSS) is a computer program which can detect the core ingredients of a chart topper. According to HSS, hit songs from any genre of music all manifest similar combinations of mathematical parameters.

In identifying these patterns, this technology has been able to predict the potential success of new music before it is released and as a result it is being used by labels, producers, artists and songwriters to improve their business results.

As a hit prediction tool for music labels, HSS has been extremely accurate in both public and private predictions since its introduction in 2002. Even the best producers and label executives combined with the best market research techniques get a hit only about 20% of the time. HSS technology has been able to overcome even the most sceptical of objectors and has helped producers and labels increase their hit ratio.

Hit singles are typically used as a showcase for an album. But often consumers complain that the rest of the album is not representative of the hit song. Cohesive albums whose songs are mathematically similar to each other historically have been those that sell the most units. HSS helps labels ensure that their albums are cohesive, coherent and that the album tracks are appealing to those who buy the album for the hit song as well as to those who would likely be inclined to download only the single.

Some of HSS successful predictions include: 'Come Away With Me' by Norah Jones, 'A Thousand Miles' by Vanessa Carlson, 'If I Can’t' by 50 Cent and 'This Love' by Maroon 5.

But according to Tony Perrey, Irish record producer, this kind of software can not make allowances for the unusual quirks in music that can make something an instant classic. No one, never mind a computer program, could have predicted that Bohemian Rhapsody, with its operatic opening would become a timeless tune.


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