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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Making hit music into a science
By Richard Westcott
BBC Radio 1

A computer program has been developed that the makers claim can dramatically increase your odds of scoring a hit.

James Blunt and Amanda Ghost
James Blunt's songwriting partner Amanda Ghost was unimpressed
Record companies spend millions every year on songs that do not sell. It has been said you've got a better chance of winning a lottery jackpot than getting into the top 10.

But computer program Platinum Blue Music Intelligence is already shaping the music you hear on the radio.

Sony BMG is among several big record labels using it.

It says it is just a tool - a guide to making the final decision, which always comes down to a human being.

The makers of the system insist it will not stifle innovation.

Mike McCready, CEO of Platinum Blue, says: "If you look at the music that has been invented since Beethoven, all of the hit songs in every new genre conform to the same mathematical patterns.

Louis Walsh
Music mogul Louis Walsh says he prefers human techniques
"Reticent artists need to understand this is just a tool to help them get their art to a mass audience, rather than affect the art they're making."

Platinum Blue Music Intelligence is a complex computer program that turns music into mathematics.

It breaks songs down into 30 or so component parts including rhythm, melody, harmony, beat, cadence, timbre, pitch, and gives each a number.

What they have found is just about all hit songs, no matter what genre, fit the same pattern.


Match that pattern and then promote the song right, and you have an 80% chance of success.

The system has some high-profile supporters including Moby. But one artist I spoke to was horrified by the idea.

Amanda Ghost, who won two prestigious Ivor Novello awards for co-writing James Blunt's You're Beautiful, was unimpressed.

Moby is a supporter of the hit-making program
We tested her new song Deep Water and it registered as a hit, getting virtually the same score as You're Beautiful.

It even compared the track to classics like Sam Cooke's Chain Gang.

"I don't like the idea that this is influencing record companies in choosing songs," she says.

"It's just making everything the same. The biggest problem today, in music, is it's too much of a marketing industry and not enough of a music industry."

One of the most successful managers in the business, X Factor judge Louis Walsh was also sceptical.

"The only technology I would use to pick a hit is my ears. I would not listen to a computer," he said.

See how the computer program works

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