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Why pop songs are getting shorter?

How streaming services are influencing music productions

Why pop songs are getting shorter? How streaming services are influencing music productions

Between 2013 and 2018 the average duration of the songs in the Billboard Hot 100 ranking went from 3 minutes and 50 seconds to 3 minutes and 30 seconds, a figure that confirms a trend identified by many: pop songs (intended as popular) they are getting shorter and shorter. From NME to Pitchfork, the leading experts in the field have noticed the phenomenon that, now, an article published in Quartz analyzes in detail. According to the American website, the cause is attributed to the expansion of streaming music services. Yes, because, although some accuse us as guilty of the brevity of the songs our ever lower concentration ability or the need for a hit to be catchy and incisive to stand out in a landscape where the choice of consumers is almost endless, Spotify, Apple Music and similar are the real determining factor. After examining some of the works of the most beloved artists of the moment such as Kendrick Lamar (in Good Kid of 2013, M.A.A.D. City arrived at minute 19, while in Damn of 2017 the recording average is around 13 minutes) or Drake, irrefutable proof of the theory under discussion, to clarify our ideas better, Quartz explains the functioning of this service by tens of millions of paying subscribers in the world.

Last year, the streaming surpassed digital downloads and sales of physical copies of the albums as regards the total revenues of the world record industry, confirming the preferred method for the consumption of music. It is estimated that the effective gain of an artist for every single reproduction (ie "in play" for at least 30 seconds) is between 0.004 and $ 0.008 and, therefore, even if there is no formal economic incentive to make shorter songs. , it follows that a musician with five 3-minute songs will earn more than one who has made three 5-minute songs. Ok, maybe not everyone is willing to sacrifice their art in the name of higher sales, but, certainly, the ability to earn more with less effort is not only tempting, but decisive.

Thus, once again, it is the characteristics of the privileged support of the listeners to influence the average duration of the songs. Yes, once again, because as Quartz continues to explain, but it is also intuitively understandable, the artists adapt their productions according to the fruition system in vogue at the moment. For example, up until the 1950s, a record could only contain three minutes of music per side and the productions of the time were, therefore, often as long as a blink of an eye; while in the sixties the diffusion of the LPs and their ten minutes per side allowed Pink Floyd and many others to record very long pieces (just think of Echoes over 23 minutes). Finally, the arrival of cassette tapes and CDs pushed the boundaries of timing even further. Now, with the streaming, we are back to the micro-song, a short product and, in the luckiest cases, incisive. After reading all these considerations, do you think that brevity will continue to be the dominant feature of pop music?