The Worst Thing Is Your Song Is Mediocre

Submitted by Peter Åstedt

We take in submissions for our radio station Cashboxradio from several places. We get a lot of submissions from PR companies and radio promoters. Professional people that know how to present a song. Then we also take in songs through different webpages like submit hub where you pay a little to get the station to hear your song but are also guaranteed to get some feedback on the song even if we don’t choose it.

I just looked at the stats of how much music a radio station really gets. Over the past three years, we have just alone on Submit hub listened to 5303 songs. We have played 917 of these. In numbers, we played 8.4 percent of what got in there. With the things that got in on PR agencies, it will be double so over 10 000 in three years. And with the submissions straight from the homepage another 3000. On top of that all the live shows we see around the world we are exposed to over 15 000 songs in three years. That is around 5000 songs a year. We are a smaller one till so I can just imagine how much more a big national radio station gets it. I heard once that Swedish national radio got in around 400 songs a day. And yes we listen to everything, you don’t want to miss anything good.

When you listen to this much music. You get two things. You get jaded since you hear so much music. The second is that you get really good to pick out the good ones since your reference is so big.

On submithub from time to time, you get in artists that think they are gods gift to the music world. You probably get this in the other channels as well, but in those channels, it’s one-way communication or communication with a PR. If it’s not interesting I don’t answer. With PR agency you can also answer that you didn’t like the track and they would understand. With the new music industry, you have to more and more deal with artists that do it themselves. Many don’t understand what to expect. They think they are good because their mom and best friends tell them that they listen to their songs all the time.

The worst thing with music today is that is pretty well produced. There are like photography so many programs that can fix your errors and make it look decent. Same with music there are so many programs and loops and other things that make your product sound decent. Don’t fool you that it’s as good as when you use a producer, it’s never like that. Back in the days when demos were around there, you could really hear what do develop. In today’s recording, you can easily hide that you are a bad musician behind all these tools.

What you can’t hide is songwriting and here comes the big problem. Today you even can go to school and learn to become a songwriter. This phenomenon has just been around for ten years but you already see a problem. In Sweden which is a big country of songwriting we even have a saying that it sounds like a “songwriting schools song”. The problem is that they shape all the songwriters in the same shape and make them all write the same mediocre song with the same mediocre production.

And this is the problem I get with a lot of songs that come in through the system. It’s mediocre. Today’s technology makes all music stay forever. Your new song goes against classics like “She loves me”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Respect”. Yes, it’s like putting a newcomer into the highest lead straight away.

And a mediocre song is not good enough. Yes, it’s good enough that your mom thinks it’s wonderful but she also keeps the paintings that you did when you were five in the refrigerator. Your song has to be awesome to survive the 100 songs we get in a week. We pick 10 for the station to play, but only one will stay on for rotation.

The problem with a mediocre song is that you don’t really remember it. Or you can’t get a feeling with it. It’s ok and works as elevator music. I feel today that a lot of music is used that way, just as background fillers. Maybe it’s because the new systems allow 60 000 songs to be released a day. Also, the cost to produce a song is almost nothing today. The mass brown flood of music is just pushing us to have mediocre songs on in the background.

In fact, it’s better if your song is bad, then people will remember it because it’s bad. A mediocre song is just a filler. On a radio station, it never has a chance.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.