You’ll hear it drifting out of car windows, hovering over bar patios and lighting up the dance floor at weddings all summer long. Billboard may have only created a summer songs chart in 2010, but the song of the summer is a time-honored tradition dating back nearly 60 years.
Publications from Rolling Stone to The New York Times and Good Housekeeping dedicate ample time and resources to the prediction and analysis of songs of the summer past, present and future. These songs can have a virality that seemingly emerges overnight. But, unlike other viral internet trends, they have a staying power that can last well into October.
The speculation over the year’s song of the summer begins as early as April. While artists have from Memorial through Labor Day to duke it out on the charts for the official title of song of the summer.
Long before this though, as early as January, artists and record labels are planning for the perfect drop date for the track. Hopefully, giving the song enough time to build up momentum. It won’t be until school’s back in session and 80-degree temps are riding the wave deep into September, however, that a winner is ultimately declared.
Critics and cynics will write off the song of the summer as some vast marketing conspiracy designed to drive record sales and subliminally sell you Banana Boat sunscreen, but a relative unpredictability still remains.
The song of the summer doesn’t discriminate. Birthing one hit wonders; entrenching the status of industry powerhouses and rocketing relative newcomers into the stratosphere. They often traverse the boundaries of genre and encompass everything from pop and hip hop to reggaetón and country. Not to mention their vast appeal across generational boundaries gaining popularity with everyone from millennials to gen Z.
So, what wisdom does the song of the summer have to instill upon us mere mortal marketers?
Harness viral moments. Don’t let them fizzle out.
The song of the summer exists on borrowed time. Artists and record labels recognize this and work overtime to harness the moment. From television talk show appearances to outdoor concerts and events, they capitalize on the little time these chart toppers have by creating a sound and experience that lives on to encapsulate this brief window of time for years to come. By doing the same when you’re gifted a viral moment, you too can create something that lasts.
It’s a data world and we’re all just living in it.
The song of the summer is nothing without the numbers to back it up. Sales, radio play and streaming all factor into crowning a summer champion. The same is true for your marketing efforts. Analytics, sales and conversions are the decisive factors when calculating ROI.
Timing is seriously everything.
Drop a track too early and it fizzles out before May. Drop it too late and leave it with no time to climb the charts. Whether you’re posting on social media or blasting out that sizzling press release, timing is a balancing act which can spell out your success or doom.
Be relatable and tap into our shared human experience.
At the end of the day, a successful song of the summer exists to capture the zeitgeist of the season taping into our shared human experience. Do the same with your marketing campaigns by combining a deep understanding of your audience with a dose of empathy. Without being relatable, your marketing efforts can easily fall flat and ring hollow.
As for summer 2018? “I Like it” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J. Balvin appears to be the front runner. Although, Drake’s “Nice for What” could hang around for a little while.