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How to Choose Great Music

Recital just wrapped up, summer workshops are over, and all of a sudden it is time to think about music! The amount of music a studio owner and instructor needs to choose every year can seem insurmountable. But when it comes to finding that perfect tune for your killer routine, we have your back! Here are a few tips for finding your next great hit!

1. Choose unique songs

The only thing worse than hearing the same song on the radio every day is hearing it used over and over again at a dance competition. This doesn’t just go for the popular songs of today, either. Dancers love to bring back classics every year. You are bound to hear “Hey Mickey,” “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and “Hard Knock Life” at almost any competition you go to. The problem with choosing predictable music is that it usually only lends itself to a certain theme or style of movement. Not only are the judges hearing a song they have heard a thousand times, but they feel like they are watching a dance that they have already done themselves!

So you've fallen in love with a song that may or may not be a popular classic. That's ok, but now it is up to you to find a way to make it unique! Maybe the lyrics or the beat can be interpreted to tell a different story than what people normally do. Maybe you can dance an unexpected style to a well-loved song. If you can't depend on the song to set your dance apart you will need to make up for it with creativity in your costuming and choreography.

2. Remixes and Covers

You have a concept, you have a costume, and you have a song that will go perfectly with both that is currently being played about 500 times on the radio every day (seriously, even your three-year-old now knows most the lyrics). Do some research online and see what kind of remixes or covers have been done of the song. You could find an acoustic version that will pair nicely with the contemporary choreography you had envisioned. Or maybe you will find the song has been covered by another popular artist that gives it just the bit of edge you were looking for. Using a remix or a cover of a popular song can give it just that bit of creative edge it needs. Instead of feeling annoyed at hearing your song played once again, the audience and judges alike will feel a warm familiarity as they experience the music in a new way.

A word of caution: some covers can become just as popular (or even more so) than the original, which brings you back to square one of using a predictable song. Check your song pick out on YouTube. If the remix or cover you would like to use has more than 1 million hits, it may be best to just keep on looking.

3. Apps and Websites for music browsing

The music industry is always trying to sell you more music by giving you suggestions to listen to. Let this work to your advantage as you try to find new music. Here is a list of apps and websites to check out for great music browsing.

Pandora: Great for picking up on the sound you’re looking for and giving you similar songs. Try different stations and just keep it playing while you multitask. If you give a song a 'thumbs up' the app will get to know your taste and start giving you more songs that fall into the same category. Don't forget to write down the information when you hear something that you like

Shazam: If you're out to dinner and the restaurant starts playing a song that gets your choreography juices flowing, pull out your phone and let Shazam listen to it! Not only will it tell you what the song is and keep track of the information for you, but it will also give you suggestions for music that sounds similar.

YouTube: YouTube is one of the easiest places to find unique music, but it can also be a time consuming process. Turn to YouTube when you have a more specific song, genre, or artist in mind or you could be stuck on there for hours (and only half of that time will be spent on the distracting funny cat videos that will pop up) It's a great place to look up covers or remixes.

iTunes: With iTunes great searching abilities, you will have an easy time finding the type of songs or artists you’re looking for. iTunes is great when you have an idea for a dance but haven’t found the right song for it. For example, have a great outer space looking costume? Try search words like alien, planets, outer space and see what's out there!

4. Find a song that speaks to you

The world is completely filled with music and new sounds and ideas are being created every day! Wait for something that really speaks to you. If it moves you, there's probably a good chance that others will feel it too! Dance is about communicating and expressing a story through motion, so take the time to make sure that the music you choose truly helps convey your message. Whether it be a heart-wrenching contemporary piece or an explosive hip hop routine, the time you put in to finding the right piece of music will be worth it in the end.

If you want to find the best music, turn on some music right now and start listening. The more music you listen to, the higher your chances are for finding the perfect one. Keep those tunes on as often as possible and get your groove on while you work!

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