We just wrote about the rather insane process by which major record labels go through to pick
which songs will be the "single" they promote off of an album. We focused on all the "protections" the labels try to build in to keep the songs from leaking while the execs make this wise decision -- but there's a separate issue as well: why is it that these execs are really the best at picking the hit single? The folks behind the "New Rockstar Philosophy" book point us
to an article talking about Jason Mraz's hit song "I'm Yours,"
which you've almost certainly heard unless you live on a deserted island (if not, it's on YouTube
of course). It's pretty catchy -- but the key point raised by the link above is that Mraz apparently didn't keep the song hidden and locked up until some bright execs could figure out the hit single (though, yes, he's been on a major label for years...). The article notes that he performed the song live for audiences for years before putting it on an album, and it was the audience response that made him realize it was a perfect hit single:
"The song was really born into the crowd. ... I noticed almost an immediate response to it and people really celebrated in a different way during that song," he said in a phone interview. "And then by having those three years to jam to the song, it gave us the opportunity to do something simple, yet spirited" in the studio.
And the song is doing quite well. The whole point of the article is to note that the song has the longest ever
run on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Apparently sales of the song weren't "hurt" by the fact that people could hear it long before it was chosen as a single. In fact, it seemed to do just fine. So why do execs try to lock up that decision making process so much?