February 17, 2019

Streaming Sites Are Making Songs Shorter

“The average track length on Lamar’s breakout 2013 album good kid, m.A.A.d city is 5 minutes 37 seconds. All are 3 minutes 30 seconds or longer. On Lamar’s most recent album DAMN., the average song is 3 minutes and 57 seconds. DAMN. won the Pulitzer Prize for music, going to show that this trend isn’t necessarily lowering the quality of music.

It’s not just Lamar. The trend can be seen in albums of music’s biggest stars, like the rapper and singer Drake, perhaps pop music’s most dominant force.

Unlike Lamar, Drake’s albums are getting longer as his songs get shorter.

Kanye West’s tracks are also getting dramatically shorter. His 2016 album The Life of Pablo had eight tracks that were less than three minutes long, while on 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy there were only two…

Payments from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music made up 75% all US music revenues in 2018 (pdf), compared to just 21% in 2013. Streaming services pay music rights holders per play. Spotify doesn’t say the exact amount it pays artists for each stream, but reports suggest it is somewhere between $0.004 and $0.008. Every song gets paid the same. Kanye West’s 2010 five-minute opus “All Of the Lights” gets the same payment as West’s two-minute long 2018 hit “I Love it”.”

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