Raymond Hayden

4S Defined | Song | Sound | Style | Story

4S – The essential requirements to achieve success in the music industry.

…simply put, the music industry may have changed, but there are still essential requirements to achieving success no matter how you personally define success!
~Raymond Hayden, Artist

In an industry saturated with new music, have you ever wondered why some rise to the top and others never see the light of day? The simplicity of the answer may surprise you. In a word? EFFORT Another word? INTENTION Like anything in life, the sheer amount of effort you put into anything exponentially increases your chances of rising to the top.

There is plenty of room for EXCELLENCE at the top! MEDIOCRACY is the killer of dreams. As artists, we want to share our vision with the world, but, we focus so much time and energy on the music…we lose sight of “how to get it to our fans.” With over 40 years in the music industry I’ve contributed to this mind-set too many times. It is only recently that I have grasped the reality of what is truly needed…THIS, is what 4S is all about…honing in on the “essential” requirements to achieving success. Of course, as in life, there are no guarantees, but, you can greatly amplify your chances by focusing in on what is truly required.

As music IS a business, you must treat it as such by creating a plan. I promise you that it is not nearly as difficult as you may think. In the end, if you take these four simple steps to creating a plan for your music (dream), you will realize different results. Of course, there are many basics that must be in place first…aptitude, skill, gear, attitude and willingness to be patient and most importantly – enjoy the ride.

Let’s keep it simple…I’ll define each of these four elements to 4S and you develop your plan “intentionally.” Take your time and enjoy the process that will bring your vision to the world. As artists, it is incumbent on us to shine a light by providing hope and healing to a world in a constant state of chaos.


S O N G Songs are your contribution to the world. Whether sad or happy, they are important and you should treat them as such. Write as many songs as you can and be honest about which ones are “ready” to record and share with the world. Think about your favorite artists and keep in mind that they did this. Make sure that only the GREAT songs you write come to fruition. I’m not saying throw away the less than great songs, but shelf them until they are great. Keep in mind that all songs are not great. Some songs are merely therapy for us as artists and should be treated as such. Truly great songs have the ability to connect with everyone.

S O U N D Now that you have your song(s) selected, make sure you research where and how you will record them and spend time looking for reference tracks that allow your producer to know exactly what “sound” you are going after. Be intentional about “how you want them to sound.” Some songs need a lot of producing and some not so much. The sound should be apropos to the genre and intended audience. (i.e. POP heavily produced / PUNK raw)

S T Y L E Another word for style is presentation. The next time you peruse a toy store, take notice of the packaging that these toys are wrapped in. Style is how you present both your music and you as an artist/band to the world. It allows the consumer to know exactly what/who you and your music are and what they will be purchasing. We all have different tastes and your fans only have a moment to see your brand…don’t let that moment pass them by. Style also relates to how you look on stage and how you present your music and show to your audience. (i.e. Kiss, Lady GaGa, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, etc…) This isn’t to insinuate you need to wear a mask or dance…just make sure that everything you do is intentional…in other words, meaningful.

S T O R Y The final element of 4S and quite possibly the most important element of this plan. This is how you package all of the above into a nice tidy little presentation. Every artist/band has a story. How you became an artist? Why you became an artist? What your songs are about? Etc… When you write your songs, record them and then develop your style…you absolutely need to package it all up with your story. When completing all aspects of 4S, consider “why you are doing what you are doing?” Reference this Ted Talk – every aspect of what you do should fall back on YOUR STORY!

There are no guarantees in life, but a little intention and effort behind what you do will get you closer to the fruition of your dreams. A lot of those two elements will get you even closer. Good luck and I hope my 4S philosophy helps guide you there!

About Raymond Hayden – Gigs4U guest blogger, Raymond Hayden, is a 40+ year music industry veteran.  Raymond has toured throughout Europe and the East Coast, produced 5 albums which are currently on iTunes, performed as a guest keyboardist on over 20+ albums, created two music podcasts (The Aquarium on NWCZRADIO / Houston on SEATTLE WAVE RADIO), been a co-host on Strangely Alright Television with Regan Lane, owned an independent record label for a decade (Maurice the Fish Records), blogged for SHURE.COM and currently performs in five bands (Grieve the Astronaut, Strangely Alright, Jessica Lynne and the Cousins, Monsters in the Dark and sits in with Limberlost) and mentors up and coming young artists in the Ted Brown Music Live It Outloud Program (Rock and Roll Camp for 12-yrs old).  Raymond has created a philosophy called 4S which was exclusively blogged for the Gigs4U audience.