iTunesability

Before the digital era, it didn’t matter as much if two songs, companies, books, or people shared a name.

Things are different now.

Before starting a company, or launching a brand or a trademark, businessmen check whether the domain is available—and how the term Googles. Before launching a writing career, an author Googles his name to see if there are any other prominent people, even in other genres or other fields, with the same name.

Getting a little closer to Southern Gospel, before pitching a song—and sometimes even before writing it—professional songwriters seach ASCAP / BMI / SESAC to see if anyone else has written a similar song.

Artists and label execs would be wise to show similar care in picking album titles. Are there other albums in the same genre with the same title?

If you have a decent collection of music in your iTunes / iPod (or non-brand-name equivalent program or player)—or if you have a friend who does—checking a title to see how it does in iTunes is a good start. Of course, iTunes pulls up song titles and other information, too, but that is worth at least being aware of.

So why does this matter?

First, the more distinctive title your album has, the more likely someone remembers it.

Second, the easier it is to pull up in iTunes or another digital media player, the more likely someone with a large collection will pull it up and play it.

The more someone remembers it, and the more they play it, the more likely they’ll like it and return for more by the same group.

Now I’ll admit to completely making up the word iTunesability. Only one reference—in a different context—pops up on Google. And yes, I checked—iTunesability.com / .org / .net is available. (Just practicing what I preach!)

And I’m not saying iTunesability is a proven concept. But it is a hypothesis worth considering. Look at this list, all of albums with high iTunesability ratings:

  • Big & Live
  • Portrait of Excitement
  • Symphony of Praise
  • Easy on the Ears, Heavy on the Heart
  • Chapter X Live
  • The Blackwood Brothers Featuring their Famous Bass J.D. Sumner
  • Know So Salvation
  • Perfect Candidate
  • Lovin’ Life
  • Are You Ready?
  • Pressed Down, Shaken Together, Running Over
  • Pure Vintage

Virtually every Southern Gospel could skim that list and easily name most of the albums. Sure, the songs were good. But it doesn’t hurt that the album title was also easy to remember.

On the other hand, take these cases:

  • Live in Atlanta (which one?)
  • Sounds of Sunday (was it the Dixie Echoes that did that one? Or was theirs Sounds like Sunday, and Janet Paschal who did Sounds of Sunday)?
  • Greatest Hits
  • Favorites
  • Hymns
  • Reunion
  • Who Am I (or other albums named after an already-classic song)
  • 25th Anniversary
  • 10th Anniversary (note how the Bishops avoided that with Chapter X Live)

Name who recorded those albums! Multiple choice—with multiple answers—would be necessary.

I don’t mean to claim that iTunesability should be the most important factor in picking an album title. If you have an amazing song that everyone will remember the album for, even if another album has a similar title, go for it.

But this factor is worth considering. Having a good iTunesability rating won’t hurt anything.


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9 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Yes, it was The Dixie Echoes that recorded “Sounds Of Sunday.”

  2. This is true….
    I can think of about 6 songs that have the Title “I Believe” (or something similar)… Not to mention similar album titles…

  3. #! – I actually knew that. I was just saying that to make a point. 😉

  4. Yeah, Like the two different songs “Only God Knows” (Cold City and the Martins).

    And don’t forget the two different “Come On In” (Cathedrals and Gold City).

  5. I heard someone request “Holy Ground” at a Cathedrals’ concert many years ago. Younce said they knew it and had recorded it. The song is an old SG two chords and a cloud of dust song. They finished to a standing ovation, but it was the wrong song… The requester was thinking of the beautiful P&W chorus and occasional anthem “I am standing on Holy Ground, and I know there are angels all around…” Great song – but not the one the Cats’ knew…

    As good as they were, they probably knew both but saw it as a light moment. It was a great night – as they all were when the Cathedrals were there. Precious memories, how they linger…

    JEB

  6. Old Friends Quartet only recorded two CDs. Both contained a song titled “Thanks To Calvary”…one by Bill and Gloria Gaither and the other by Vep Ellis.

  7. How did I not think about that? Or maybe I did and have just forgotten … Didn’t know I was that old!

  8. I was talking to an artist not long ago and they were telling me that they were struggling to come up with a name for their upcoming table release that will feature mostly older songs… They said that they did not want it to have the same title as every other group out there that does a similar project… I could spend most of the day naming the different groups that call their project of old songs’ “Hymns” or “Classics” there needs to be some originality in this genre(yes even for a budget release) for it to succeed and thrive…