How do you measure the success of a song? Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter, Juan Cristobal Losada, unpacked the elusive answer to this million-dollar question during IVY’s Entrepreneur Night in Miami, explaining there are two ways — musically and commercially.
Losada considers a musical success to be a relatively unknown song that proves to be so enjoyable you simply can’t turn it off. Yet while it is audibly appealing, it doesn’t have the marketing backend necessary to elevate it to a commercial success.
Commercial successes, on the other hand, are the songs you hear on the radio time and time (and time) again. You know the song — one you may not have liked at first, but can’t get out of your head by the 50th radio listen.
If you can create a song that is both musically and commercially successful, Losada says, you have yourself a true hit. Losada has been able to replicate this success with a number of Latin American and Global Music icons, including Shakira, Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin, and Enrique Iglesias.
During his talk, Losada detailed the three steps he takes to craft a musical and commercial success. The steps relate to the process of being an entrepreneur — indeed, they can be adapted and reworked to fit any business model.
- Form a connection to the artist.
Before Losada begins to create any music, he takes the time to get to know the artist with whom he is collaborating: where they are from, where their parents grew up, what songs are on rotation on their playlist, their relationship history, and so on. Losada sets aside the time to engage in this quasi-psychoanalysis because, as he stated, “more connection equals more success.”
Reflect on this process in reference to a different type of business: In order to be successful, you must first connect with your audience, client, or partner. If you are developing a campaign for a client, for instance, you need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the client’s business, goals, starting point, and envisioned direction. The same applies to creating some type of product: who are you creating the product for? Where do they live, what do they like to do in their free time, what is their annual income, where do they get their news?
“More connection equals more success.”
2. Create a unique sound.
Building off the psychoanalysis of his new artists, Losada goes on to create a sound uniquely suited to the particular artist and inspired by their influences and roots. “As unique as an artist is, so should their music and lyrics be,” said Losada.
Likewise for entrepreneurs, it can be easy to become trapped in the notion that we must follow in lockstep with our industry leaders in order to reap success. When EDM began entering the mainstream, for example, a mass of musicians jumped on board — even if that style of music wasn’t truly unique to their brand. The same applies to work in the social media industry: a huge number of personal brands follow other people’s path to success instead of creating their own.
“We’re all trying to go to the same place but there are many avenues to get there.”
3. Focus on the business side.
In order to craft a commercially successful song you need to figure out how to capture the ear of the masses. Losada grew up knowing he wanted to work in the music industry, but when asked about how he become involved in the entrepreneurial side of the industry, he responded: “One thing is to sit down and wait for people to hire you and another thing is to go out and generate your own work.”
In short, you will face roadblocks on the path of you your entrepreneurial journey —the key is to figure out ways around those obstacles, and to avoid sitting and waiting for something to happen. You have full control of your dreams and, as Losada states, “there is always a way.”
Losada is currently working on a commissioned project in conjunction with the CDC and the World Health Organization centered on bringing awareness to the harmful effects of the Zika Virus. Losada let us listen to the demo of this project — surprisingly, the melody is upbeat and makes you want to dance, a contrast to the majority of songs created for awareness campaigns. In response to the audience’s observation of this contrast, Losada said: “I wrote this song with the thought to move your body so the mosquito won’t bite you.” The audience laughed, but Losada’s answer rings true: The reason the melody is upbeat, with a catchy tune, is because it is memorable — and when people can’t get your words out of their head, your on the path to creating authentic awareness and real change.
Losada also hinted at a number of notable “big” artists that are on board with the song, so definitely be on the lookout. He closed with a reminder to the audience that everything you do is a stepping-stone in the right direction — persevere and never give up on your passion!