Advice// Creating Value: Hooks in Everything

How new musicians can use hooks in everything from musical melodies to website design.


Hooks. Arguably the most important weapon in any songwriter’s arsenal. Sometimes, from a layman’s point of view, hooks can be dismissed as a catchy bit of the tune, or a bit that people like to sing along to. But I’d like to take some time to explore the concept in a bit more depth.

Hooks can be defined as a thing to catch people’s attention. Now, that can go much deeper than just a catchy bit of tune. Let’s look at a few different types of hooks, starting with songwriting.

  1. The melodic hook. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. A good, catchy tune. What was the last song that you sang to yourself, or had in your head? That’s your example.
  2. The rhythmic hook. Something that gets you tapping your foot, or using your desk as a makeshift drum kit. What makes you want to tap along? An example I’d point to is the stops in the chorus of The Middle by Jimmy Eat World. It’d still be a good chorus without them, but they certainly take it to another level.
  3. The sound effect hook. Perhaps less obvious than the two above, but hey, if something sounds nice, then people are going to want to hear it, and isn’t that what a hook is all about? A lot of these come down to production ideas.

    For an example, listen to the first few bars of Nelly Furtado’s Turn Off The Light. The ambient sounds and stuttering beeps aren’t really defined solely as melodic or rhythmic, but they certainly sound great!

In a previous article, preparing for the studio, we looked at being well rehearsed, and indeed recording guides before going into the studio. When you’re doing this, it might be worth reviewing if you’ve made the most of all your hooks.

Could you emphasise a melodic hook with a crash of a cymbal, or by flipping the rhythm, or indeed having the drums follow the rhythm of the vocals at a key phrase? All of these things and more are options you have to lift your track.  
 
Now that we’ve looked at hooks in songwriting, it’s important that we also consider the use of other kinds of hooks in other activities. It’s perhaps less obvious, but it could be beneficial to think like a songwriter whilst you’re doing other things.

For example, say that you’re building a website. What’s the hook? What’s going to make people stick around or sign up to your mailing list? Do you have free songs on offer, or maybe a great design on the page? What makes it a pleasant experience for your visitors, and makes them want to stay a little longer, and eventually come back? 
 
Similarly when you’re putting out social media posts; when you’re composing a tweet or a status update, what’s going to make people respond, like, share, or otherwise react to what you’re doing? 
 
This mindset shouldn’t be limited to fan-facing activities either. When you’re contacting someone who you want to do business with, but feel like perhaps you’re reaching (e.g. approaching a booking agent about a great tour support slot that there’s going to be stiff competition for), explore what you can do to make yourself an attractive option for them to go for. As explored in a previous post, these people are running businesses, so they’re unlikely to just take a chance if you don’t show them how it could be profitable to them. 
 
Ultimately, the way you carry out all of the above will be informed by knowing your audience, and what they’re looking for, so it’s important that you consider all of the different variables before you put your figurative pen to paper. Considering all of this will yield greater results than simply posting without thinking.

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