New study claims that songs are getting faster as streaming becomes more prevalent

Source:AFP Published: 2017/4/6 18:58:40

Streaming isn't just making it quicker to play music. A new study finds that pop songs themselves are getting faster as listeners' attention spans diminish.

Instrumental openings to songs have shrunk dramatically over the past three decades and, to a lesser extent, the average tempo of hit singles has been speeding up, the research found.

Hubert Leveille Gauvin, a doctoral student in music theory at the Ohio State University, analyzed the year-end top 10 on the US Billboard chart between 1986 and 2015.

In 1986, it took roughly 23 seconds before the voice began on the average hit song. In 2015, vocals came in after about five seconds, a drop of 78 percent, he found.

In a study published in Musicae Scientiae, the Journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, Leveille Gauvin linked the trend to the rapid rise of Spotify and other streaming sites that give listeners instant access to millions of songs.

"It makes sense that if the environment is so competitive, artists would want to try to grab your attention as quickly as possible," he told AFP.

"We know that the voice is one of the most attention-grabbing things that there is," he said.

A 2014 study of Spotify listening habits found that 21 percent of songs get skipped in the first five seconds.

As an example of the shift, Leveille Gauvin pointed to Starship's 1987 hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," which takes 22 seconds for the vocals to begin and more than a minute for the chorus.

On the 2015 hit "Sugar" by Maroon 5, Adam Levine gets to the point within seven seconds with the lines, "I'm hurting baby / I'm broken down."

He connected the trend to scholar Michael H. Goldhaber's concept of the "attention economy"- the quest to hold attention in an Internet overflowing with information.

"Music has always been a cultural product, but I think that more and more songs are also advertisements for the artists," Leveille Gauvin said.

Posted in: MUSIC

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