Digital Music Mag - Sound & Stuff

Can you Produce a Hit Song?

Here is an interesting story from Scott Romig. He posted his point of view as one of many replies in a thread titled "Can you Produce a Hit Song?" at gearslutz. Very salutary ...

I think that a "hit" also requires timing in the market place.

I have experienced this from many artist angles. In 1999 my band, Dexter Freebish, was an unsigned band in Austin Texas. We won the Grand Prize of the John Lennon songwriting contest for our song "Leaving Town." The song was recorded during a demo deal with MCA records and produced by a local producer named Dave Mcnair. The demo recording was done with 3 other songs over a 4 day period here in Austin. After winning song of the year we were signed by capitol records and went on to record our Debut Album "A Life of Saturdays." Most of the the album was co-produced with John Travis. But "Leaving Town" was co-produced by John Shanks.

For the Album version we did drums and vocals at Sunset Sounds with overdubs at Shanks' home studio. Tom Lord Algae mixed "Leaving Town" and a couple of other tracks with Chris Lord Algae and Jack Joseph Puig mixing the others on the album.

We spent around $500,000 on the album with another $300,000 on the video. Capitol spared no expense on the radio promotion or marketing. In the end "Leaving Town" was a moderate succes.

We made it to #10 @ AAA, #24 @ modern rock, and #33 at top 40. Moderate VH1 airplay and sold somewhere around 100,000 albums after touring our butts off for 15 months.

In 2000 you will recall that the airwaves were filled with the likes of Britney Spears, Nsync on the pop side and KORN, Limp Biscuit, etc on the rock side. There was not a whole lot of airplay being devoted to alternative/pop/rock.

We had a heck of a time getting any momentum at radio and in the end was shelved when a new label head came to capitol.

Now......maybe "Leaving Town" was a mediocre song OR maybe it had "hit potential." All I know is that the marketing $$$ were flying and yet in the marketplace we were unable to gain a strong foothold.

In the interest of furthering the dialogue I have created a myspace account and posted the demo version and Album version of "Leaving Town" for your listening enjoyment at please download as the streaming quality sucks.

Where are they now?

Capitol payed for us to record another album in 2003. We used Matthew Wilder as producer and worked with Mike Shipley as mixer.

After recording "Tripped into Divine" capitol dropped us because we still did not fit into the radio marketplace and they had no idea how to "market" us.

We ended up putting out the album independently and won another john lennon songwriting contest for the song "prozak" yet were unable to generate enough airplay to "pop"

Since then....the band has folded. I am currently writing/producing/playing alot of guitar, leading worship and waiting for the next "Big Break."

scott romig


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