Another way technology is changing music whether we like it or not

There has always been a dance between technology and music creating at times an odd and unexpected sort of symbiosis.

Take streaming, for example. Labels and artists know that no one gets paid by a streaming music service unless the song plays for at least 30 seconds. We also know that a significant number of people (~30%) will skip an unfamiliar song within the first five seconds.

This has led to a number of things. First, artists and producers are doing everything in their power to hold the listener’s attention for at least 30 seconds. That means shorter instrumental intros, putting the chorus up front, and jamming as many hooks as possible into that first half-minute.

In other words, the creation of the music is bending to the will of the behaviours created by new technology.

Now let’s look at the current darling of the consumer electronics world: the smart speaker.

People who use smart speakers to call up a stream of music know that these devices can actually be kinda dumb when it comes to calling up specific songs. This leads to much swearing at Alexas and Google Assitant.

Record labels are aware of this and they’re most concerned that consumers get what they want when they ask a smart speaker for music. They’re quietly telling songwriters to make sure the title of the song is in the chorus so these speakers will do a better job fetching the right track.

It may be a small thing, but it could have big implications for how music is retrieved. Good thing? Bad thing? Not sure yet, but it’s a trend we can all watch take shape.

Read more on this development here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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