How to Make a Great Rock Album

So you are a musician and want to make a rock album? Well, here are some things you might want to consider.


  1. Image titled Make a Great Rock Album Step 1
    Define your trademark and intrigue the public. There must always be a connection between your message, your style and public expectations. In short, you need to find your own secret formula.
  2. Image titled Make a Great Rock Album Step 2
    Choose your songs. This is an example of how a 12-song rock album might be organized, but don't feel afraid to branch-out, just don't lose continuity:
    • Hard Rock Song 1 - Song to Set the Tone of the Album. (But this doesn't have to be in the exact "Hard Rock" style. A good example of "pumping up" the listener, but no using this exact format is AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" from the Razors Edge album.)
    • Power Rock Song 1 - Fast and Catchy. Potential Album Single. (Led Zeppelin's "Rock 'n' Roll" from Led Zeppelin Four is a good example)
    • Moody Rock Song 1 - Slow Down to Allow Last Song to Resonate.
    • Power Rock Song 2 - Lift the Album's Speed Back Up Again. (Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop" from Led Zeppelin Four is a good example)
    • Hard Rock Song 2 - Medium Paced Song to Allow the Album to Flow.
    • Dark Song 1 - Something to Catch the Listener Off Guard.
    • Transitional Song - Almost Like a Second Introduction.
    • Hard Rock Song 3 - Real Meat of the Album. Fewer "Hooks."
    • Dark Song 2 - Dark Concept Songs Generally Work Better Later On.
    • Hard Rock Song 4 - Substance With Little Gimmick. Purer Song.
    • Power Song 3 - One Last Heavier Song to Complete the Album.
    • Closing Rock Song - Usually Carries an "Ending" Theme With It.
  3. Image titled Make a Great Rock Album Step 3
    Be aware that there are several variations to this formula. Most artists will place their 1st album single at the beginning of an album while others will place it anywhere up to the 5th track slot. This list simply outlines the general industry standard called "Front Loading." This is where the album has a decisive flow with it's content perfectly streaming along the first half of the album. Most times the first half of the album holds many key songs in order to make the album sell. The second half of the album is generally there for the artists and true fans of the artist. Hence, the second half of the album is created to be almost a second chapter to the record.
  4. Image titled Make a Great Rock Album Step 4
    Make sure you have a unifying theme.
  5. Image titled Make a Great Rock Album Step 5
    Find an agent and/or publicist and begin to market your album. Play gigs wherever you can to get the word out.


  • A Transitional Song is the marking point in an album that bridges the first and second half of the album together. Usually the second half of the album contains songs that could probably transformed into 'radio friendly unit shifters' (term meaning radio hits). A transitional song usually signals the first song on the album without as many hooks and gimmicks.
  • A Dark Song is the "bridge" between the power song and the slow emotional one. It is basically a calmer, darker song that is intent on creating an atmosphere just as much as setting a rhythm.
  • The Finishing Song is generally a song that shares a lot in common with the introductory song. It might be meatier, calmer and more satisfactory then the introductory song, but still have many things on common with it. Albums generally should tell some kind of story and this song is important to finish the tale. Some famous artists such as Neil Young have even gone as far as to end the album with the opener, though often rebuilt slightly or given different lyrics. One example is My My, Hey Hey and Hey Hey, My My opening and closing Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps album.
  • Don't treat this and other similar pages as a bible. The most important thing should be to make the album how you visualize it sounding, the rules should come as an afterthought. If your album still doesn't sound good, load all of the songs into itunes, put 'em into a playlist and hit shuffle and see what happens.
  • The last song is always a chance to do whatever you want, experiment, add little snippets of miscellaneous stuff. Or, if you have the newest greatest rock ballad or ground breaking, genre-bending, rock song put it here.
  • Typical Examples of a Hard Rock Song include your standard affair within music. They include songs written on the G,D,C and A chords. Most Hard Rock Songs follow the the song pattern of "Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Solo, Verse, Chorus, Outro." Most of the time the vocals are moderate. Some of the most popular rock songs in the world are written in this format.
  • It's important to finish the album in the same mannerism in which it began. Why? It gives the impression of a unifying vision, makes the album sound complete. The listener's mood must change through the album but return to where it was when he/she started listening, albeit with a great musical experience.
  • When you ask someone for their opinion keep in mind that the same song does not relate to EVERY person in the world the same way. In the media, there is a rule when it comes to news: if it is confirmed by 3 different sources, then it is a valid news story.
  • Choose at least 3 people with different ages, cultures, personalities or styles, to "test" the song on. It's important to NOT get discouraged if they have suggestions or just don't like it. Practice makes perfect, and even though you aim for the sky, you've gotta keep your feet on the ground.
  • A Power Song includes most of the elements found in a hard rock song, only less varied and more frantic. Often you will find these songs contain copious amounts of guitar distortion, slap bass technique and angrier drumming. Many times the (metronome) tempo of the song will increase from 4/4 to up to 16. Further, the singing is usually more ferocious while the guitars apply steady strumming of 5th, 7ths and Bar Chords.


  • NOTE: when you have two power songs one after the other, it is best if the styles are as different as possible!
  • Always keep tempo straight and narrow. Make sure your drummer has good time and can keep it in a dynamically slower position and still bring it back up with out changing the tempo. This can be a problem when dancing and getting into the song.

Article Info

Categories: Songs and Song Writing