The Future. Streaming has made music listenership skyrocket (1 trillion streams in the US alone last year), but it’s also totally changed how music gets made — shorter songs, longer albums, and a dash of global appeal. While mainstream artists are trying to adhere to the playbook, it’s only a matter of time before an ambitious artist breaks out by breaking all the norms.
When it comes to streaming, there’s a blueprint for a viral bop, according to Howie Singer, the former Chief Strategic Technologist of Warner Music Group, and Bill Rosenblatt, the President of media tech consulting firm GiantSteps.
- Immediate hooks. In order to keep “skip rates” low, musicians are trying to introduce their hook or chorus in the first 30 seconds (when a song counts as a “play” for royalties).
- Shorter songs. But making it through the whole song is how it gets recommended by platforms, so artists are keeping tracks around three minutes long, according to producer Mark Ronson.
- Longer albums. With shorter songs, there’s more space for albums to have a lot more songs in order to boost royalty opportunities. Drake’s 2021 release, Certified Lover Boy, had a whopping 21 tracks.
- International flavor. Artists are working across genres and languages (especially Latin and K-pop) because, besides being creatively interesting, it allows tracks to pop up on more Spotify playlists and reach a global audience.
If you think this may seem like a lot of facets to be gamed by musicians for maximum exposure and profit, you’re not wrong. Last year, British indie rock band The Pocket Gods released an album called 1000X30 Nobody Makes Money Anymore, which consisted of 1,000 tracks that were just over 30 seconds.