While working on my debut Hip-hop EP, I hit a brickwall when it came to planning what tracks would come first and what tracks would conclude the project. I personally have always been a guy who gets any album or musical project and randomly clicks any interesting title without following the tracklist order arranged by the artiste. In this journey however I learnt to leave nothing to chance, so I no longer assume the behavior of most people based on what I do.
“Do tracklists matter,” I thought. Well the only way to find out was to ask a sample size of the people who listen to type of music I make. So I simply made a survey question and posted it to many of my whatsapp contacts. I got 30 respondents.
The question was:
When you first get a musical album or compilation CD what do you do?
A) Click the tracklist and follow the order of the album.
B) Click the interesting titles first then the rest of the album.
C) Click songs with featured artists I find interesting first.
My initial responses seemed to be favouring B and C but over-time A began to populate my message and this is what I found out…
14 people chose A, 8 people chose B and another 8 chose C out of the 30 respondents. The ones that gave A as an answer mostly gave an explanation to their responses but there was one who said something interesting afterwards.
“If there is a song I already know I click the song, then go from there, otherwise I just start from 1 to the end, skipping boring songs.”- Carol Marufu
A gentleman known as Lee Millz had this to say, “ A, because I believe a project is a story which has to be coherent from the start to the end, not a haphazard discography.”
Bradley Makoni, a Facebook friend of mine who supports local hip-hop had much to say as well regarding why he thought a tracklist mattered.
“There’s an artistic thought process that goes to the ordering of tracks. Recording companies pay guys to do it, plus I’m from the cassette era. I always hated haphazardly arranged CDs. An album shout tell a story. Tip: Don’t put all your currently recorded tracks on your album, choose tracks that blend together, come up with a theme,” he said throwing a whatsapp laughter emoticon.
The word haphazardly had appeared twice, the point had been driven home but what if I combined an interesting title with a popular feature? Wouldn’t that change the whole numbers? That was my homework. The reason I initially needed this information was to see which of my tracks would likely get clicked first if anybody got hold of the EP I made which at the time of writing this was being mixed and mastered with no underlying theme, from a guy who thought tracklists didn’t matter.