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Songwriting Tip: Intros

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Did you ever wonder about what the most important part of a song is? Your initial thought might be that it’s the chorus or the hook… I’m not here to say that the chorus is not important…  It certainly is. But it’s worth noting that a chorus won’t mean much if the listener never hears it. People have short attention spans when they’re listening to music, so you’ve got to catch their attention as soon as possible with your song. That means the introduction had better be memorable, or at least quick enough to let the song get to something memorable as soon as possible.

So because it’s a first impression, and first impressions are crucial, the intro just might be the most important part of your song. That’s why it’s imperative that you don’t write it off–spend as much time crafting a great introduction as you do crafting the rest of the song.

Did you know that when music industry people–like A&R and radio DJs–listen to a demo, they usually only give it about 30 seconds before they skip to the next track? That means a song had better really get going well before the 30 second mark to make them want to listen more. It also means that your demo should probably include songs that get right into the good stuff and have great intros.

Use a hook in the introduction

If you hope your introduction will make people want to keep listening, put something memorable in it–an instrumental hook, a really cool guitar part, a catchy melody, etc. There are no rules to what you can and can’t include, so do whatever makes it stand out!

Studio Pros artist Rich Marcello does this in his song “Mary.”  The introduction includes a catchy little acoustic guitar lead that quotes the main hook of the chorus.  It’s just long enough to give us a taste of the melody, then leads right into the song’s first verse.  Listen to it here:

Start with the chorus

One way to make an introduction memorable is to actually start the song with the chorus. This is a guarantee that the strongest part of your song is presented right up front. The Beatles song “She Loves You” starts right in with the chorus. A more recent example would be the song “Billionaire,” which kicks the song off with the main hook without beating around the bush.

Make it short–or nonexistent!

If your intro doesn’t have a super-catchy hook, that’s OK… But you should aim to keep it short and sweet so you don’t waste any time getting to the really good stuff. Some songs just skip an intro altogether. In the song “Basket Case” by Green Day, the song starts with the first line of the verse.

Always think of your introduction like a first impression: if it doesn’t make someone want to “get to know” your song more, they won’t make any effort to keep listening.  If you would like some professional feedback on whether or not your intro holds up to radio hits, call for a free project consultation from Studio Pros.


  • Szymon Wylandowski

    I think I’m going to re-write almost all of my songs. Thank you for that!


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