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Short Songs?


So I'm not quite ready to say that people's attention spans are getting shorter, but I am pretty sure that most people are busier than ever. From the part-time retail store associate who spends their evenings driving uber, to the full-time accounting professional who works long into the night building their own business; it is safe to say that most adults have embraced the art of the "Side Hustle". So, whether it is due to shorter attention spans or just pure lack of time, I have notticed that the average song lenth has steadily decreased overtime. According to Billboard.com, in 2019 the top 10 songs from their Hot 100 playlist were shorter than that of the previous year by an average of 30 seconds. In the past two years we have seen songs like Lil Nas X "Old Town Road" (1:55) and Kid Cudi "Beautiful Trip" (0:37) chart and do very well for very long. In both cases each artist successfully created a wave using songs that are substantially shorter than most hit singles. As the music industry continues to epand and evolve perhaps it is time to examine the structure of the music being created as we know it.


For one thing, the music industry has been primed for the independent artist to find sustainable success. That is apparent to me based on the lack of barriers to creating and distributing professional sounding music. Over just the past three years alone we have seen a rise in online platforms like Soundbetter.com and fiverr.com which helped to expand and market the vast community of creators within the industry. With little to no barriers and an abundance of accessible creators, musicians are free to create music to their heart's content. And thanks to the age of streaming, fans are able to consume music just as quickly as an artist can make it available. With creators pumping out new music daily and fans consuming it just as quickly, we have essentially stumbled upon a vacuum that cannot get enough new music. And that's just it, everyone is in a rush to create and find the next big thing, so maybe there just isnt a need for songs that require us to clear out a full timeslot on the agenda.


In keeping with that thought, content being consumed for the sake of entertainment is slowly but surely being reduced to roughly the same length of what is known as a "snippet". Turns out, Instagram videos, tiktok posts, and snaps have a ton of entertainment value. People will literally spend all day watching them. As a result, much of the music created today winds up being subjected to captions and videos that don't take more than a few moments to view. There almost seems to be some degree of positive correlation between a song's acceptance amongst social media influencers and its streaming success (Shiggy). This has given way to a surge of new "TikTok Artists" that have been flooding the music industry just like what we witnessed happen with soundcloud not too long ago. Consider social media a never-closing digital night club and in that enviornment, it seems as though 90 seconds of good music might be enough for today's listeners.