Back in 2007, I tried out a site called Hit Song Science. Since then, it’s become uPlaya, and it’s been tricked out as a music marketing site.
When I tried out the early incarnation of the site, my mixes were pretty novice. (Now, they’re safely amateur.) I think the results I got were softballs, and my second go at the site confirmed it.
In fact, I even dropped cash to get full access to the site’s services. I uploaded a beta mix of Imprint, and the results were brutal. Of the 12 tracks on the album, only "Choices", "Take It Apart" and "Late Thaw" were considered having hit potential. Most tracks got an "Honorable Mention", and a few earned the rank of "Keep Trying". At least I didn’t score so low as to be told to keep my day job.
I would eventually learn that subtle changes in the mix can improve a song’s score. Imprint went through another mixing session before it was released, and I was curious to see how the new mixes would fare.
It was night and day. "Your Gaze" first scored a 5.2 (Keep Trying), but the new mix scored an 8.9 (Platinum). "Silver Sting" first scored a 6.4 (Honorable Mention), but then scored 8.0 (Platinum) on the second try.
The final mix of the album earned five Platinum, two Gold and one Silver — that is, eight of the 12 tracks have hit potential. (Not bad, eh?)
I uploaded most of Restraint, and it bears out my perception that the album is a sophomore slump — three Platinum, two Gold and one Silver, a little less than half of the album.
The first time I used this site, all my songs seemed to hover around a score of six. I’m not sure what happened since the launch of uPlaya, but the analysis varied widely. My lowest scoring song is 4.0, while the highest scoring song is 8.9. I bet it’s a combination of the mix and pitch correction. The 2007 mixes were really, really bad.
Of course, why should I put so much credence into a machine analysis of something as ephemeral as music? Isn’t it about the song?
Well, I’ve got a solid analytical streak running through my creativity, and curiosity, more than anything, is reason enough for me to use uPlaya. (What a terrible name for a web site.) I wanted to see whether the machine could match my instinct.
As with most machines, garbage in, garbage out. In 2007, it told me the hit potential of my music, as it was back then. I got indignant when a song I felt would be a hit got a low score. Now that I’ve cleaned the mixes up, uPlaya got a better handle of my songs.
For the most part, it seems to pick out songs I had that "good feeling" about. It also surprises me a few times — "All the Times I Remember" is really that good?
Of course, now I have to figure out how to leverage that information. High scores are nice ego boost, but they won’t have much impact if I don’t do more to get the songs out there.