Why Song Length Is So Important!

Interested to know to how song length effects your success on iTunes, Spotify and the radio?

 

When you take radio stations and Spotify into consideration, you also have to take note of your song’s length. This hasn’t always been the case, especially when musicians could successfully sell their songs and push physical CDs for their new album. In that scenario, people buying it are already fans and will want to listen to it as many times as possible, for as long as possible.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Unless you’re majorly established or have a super-engaged fan base, people don’t buy CDs. If you’re an artist reading this and you do sell a bunch of CD’s then massive credit to you, you keep doing you.

This post applies to the other 99.9% of musicians.

song length is so important

In my opinion, anything over 3 minutes is too long (3:30 at a stretch). If it’s over, you can likely cut it down, allowing for more variety with the length left over. As time goes on, everyone’s attention span seems to be decreasing. Alongside this, there are now millions of artists worldwide trying to push their music. The choice for the listener in today’s world is pretty much limitless.

In 2018 it was reported that over 1,000 songs were distributed to iTunes and Spotify every single hour. In 2019 Spotify reports show that there were over 40,000 new songs added every day. That’s an incredible 280,000 songs per week. According to ‘Business of Apps’ Spotify now host over 50,000,000 songs. With this, we have to stand out in small segments. Why would people stick around if your song doesn’t stand out within the first 15 seconds, when they have so many other options to choose from? Why would they give you more than 3 minutes of their time if they aren’t already a fan of your music?

Radio stations want shorter songs so they can include more music, talk more, discuss more, and play more adverts. Spotify playlist curators want shorter songs so that their followers listen to more of the music that’s available on their playlist in a shorter period. I guess people want shorter songs because time is precious, and if it’s not something they completely love, they’ll move onto the next one.

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Another thing that musicians don’t tend to realise: Record labels with large playlists also want short songs. Shorter tends to = more streams. More streams = more royalties. I know some curators and stations that straight up will not except music over 3 minutes. It’s like the new rule that the radio stations, networks, and record labels know that the musicians don’t.

You also have to keep in mind that Spotify pays out per stream, not for how long somebody listens. If they listen for more than 30 seconds, you’ve gained a stream, a royalty, and it will be the same whether your song is 1 minute long, or 10.

I see a lot of electronic producers distribute full extended versions of their music. Why?

Nobody wants to listen to a 30-60 second drum-looped intro before things get going. I’ve listened to songs that could do with an entire 2 minutes cut off and receive more recognition due to skip-rate simply because the variety isn’t apparent right from the off.

Not only do I think this helps with streams and reaching more people, but I also believe it can take the edge off producers who are trying to add too much, extending the song length more than it needs. Short songs are OK, they get the job done, and they do it really well.

 

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If you’re releasing an album or have genuine reasons behind making the song longer, then go for it. Again, this doesn’t apply to absolutely everyone.

How many times have you been in the car listening to music, or at a party – There’s always that friend that wants to skip every song halfway through… We’ve all experienced it, and we all do it. Why are we then not taking note of it while creating our music?

Remember that giving listeners a reason to stick around for at least 30 seconds is key. If you lose them beforehand, you’ve just lost a stream alongside any income from the listener. Be interesting. Be smart. Don’t overdo song length when it could actually be stopping you from reaching more people.

11 thoughts on “Why Song Length Is So Important!”

  1. Great article! I appreciate the clear and insightful perspective you’ve shared. It’s fascinating to see how this topic is developing. For those interested in diving deeper, I found an excellent resource that expands on these ideas: check it out here. Looking forward to hearing others’ thoughts and continuing the discussion!

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