Are Pop Songs Getting Shorter?

It's commonly said that our attention spans are getting shorter, and if you've been feeling like the songs on the radio seem awfully brief lately, it's not because you're zoning out. For years now, the running time of pop hits has been shrinking. In 2013, the average length of a song on the Billboard Hot 100 was three minutes, 50 seconds. Only 1 percent of the songs on the Hot 100 were two-and-a-half-minutes or shorter; five years later, the average length had dropped by 20 seconds, and 6 percent of Hot 100 tracks came in at under two minutes, 30 seconds. The trend spans many genres, from rap and pop to country. At least some of the responsibility for this brevity might fall on the growing popularity of music streaming sites and applications. Since services like Apple Music and Spotify pay recording artists each time one of their songs is played, it makes sense for them to cut down on track length. They can fit more songs on an album, and the likelihood of getting more plays increases. Then again, another reason for the change might just be that with all of the choices available to today's listener, a song has to be catchy to stand out, and catchy typically equates to quick.

I stream; you stream:

  • One study found that Millennials are especially likely to use streaming services; 44 percent stream music regularly, compared with 35 percent of older listeners.

  • Streaming services hauled in $4.3 billion USD in the first half of 2019, with $3.3 billion of that figure coming from subscriptions.

  • Apple Music and Spotify are the leading streaming services, by number of users. As of March 2018, Apple boasted 49.5 million subscribers, while Spotify had 47.7 million.

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More Info: Quartz

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