by Alex Cosper (2/16/2014)
One of the most frustrating things about music industry research can be trying to figure out the name of a long that has long since disappeared from public consciousness. It's a situation in which the tune stays in your head but the title and artist draw a blank. Trying to track down such a lost song can be a lifelong adventure. Luckily, there are ways you can speed up the search process or at least reach the conclusion that it may be too much of a wild goose chase.
The first question to ask yourself is: where did you hear the song? Was it on radio, television, at a show or in a movie? If it's a song that stays in your head, there's a good chance that it got there from lots of radio repetition. If that's the case, then the search may not be as enormous as you imagine, since only so many songs have become radio hits over the years. Each current radio format introduces about 50-200 new songs per year. Even though there have been thousands of radio hits since the 1950s, chances are that there is something unique about the song that makes it stand out in your memory. Try to tap into what the uniqueness is, especially if it's in the lyrics.
Lyrics help connect memories with songs. They also leave the best footprints for tracking down songs. If you can remember any lyrics try typing a phrase in a search engine and see if any full song lyrics come up. Lyrics, even sometimes more than melody, are a song's unique DNA. If no songs come up, or if the song in question is an instrumental, try to map out what era the song is from. Once you have written down as much of a description as possible for the song, seek out friends of yours who know a lot of the particular genre of the song you are searching for.
Some of the most knowledgeable people about popular music include radio personnel and record store personnel. If none of those experts can help you, turn to forums and social media to pose a question about the song you are looking for.
There's a good chance that you may be a lone pioneer in your search for that particular song. You will likely hear people say "I need more information to go on," especially if your description about the words and melody are vague. Researching music on your own can be done with Playlist Research or books by Joel Whitburn that document all the songs that have ever made the Billboard charts.
Gratenote.com is the largest music database on the planet. The company, which is based in Emeryville, CA, adds new songs to its database every month. The database as of 2014 has over 180 miillion tracks in its system. The company mainly serves artists, labels and publishers. There has also been development in song recognition software that could be useful. However, consumer software like Tyberis Music Database only recognizes music that has been added to its database.
Search engines and Wikipedia tend to be the best places to find information online when all else fails. If you think you know the artist of the song you are looking for you can research the artist's discography in Wikipedia. But if you don't have enough information to suppy an expert or database, it could be a lost cause. Or there's always that chance that the song doesn't really exist outside your head and you are the true original composer of that song.
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