Are You a Song-Skipper? If You Are, Read This

Back in the days of vinyl and cassette, it was just too much effort to skip a song.  With an LP, you had to get up, walk across the room and physically move the tone arm to the next track.  Whenever I did that, I was always conscious that I’d just have to get up again to turn over the record sooner.  Cassettes were almost as annoying; there was that annoying hunt-and-peck with the fast-forward button.  Best to just let everything play through.

That changed with the CD player.  Skipping a track was as easy as hitting a button.  We’ve been ADHD with our music ever since.  It’s to the point where almost 20% of us will skip a song within its first twenty seconds.

This has inspired a whole new area of study.  John Sakamoto writes in the Toronto Star:

The more engaged we are with music, the more likely we are to skip it.  That’s the paradoxical thesis of a hotly debated post that instantly elevated “The Skip” to common music vernacular.Written by Paul Lamere, director of developer platform for a company owned by Spotify, the streaming-music goliath that is still not readily available in Canada, it took off after being flagged in insider Bob Lefsetz’s indispensible newsletter.

“Used to be the hard part was getting your track on the radio,” Lefsetz wrote. “Now the hard part is getting people to listen to the end.”
Lamere defines The Skip as “any time the listener abandons a song before the song finishes.” After taking a deep dive into Spotify’s analytics, he arrived at this startling conclusion:
“Nearly one-quarter of all song plays are abandoned in the first 5 seconds.”

It gets worse.

In other words, the odds that a song will be played all the way through are only slightly better than 50-50.

Keep reading.  (Thanks to Moe for the link.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38165 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “Are You a Song-Skipper? If You Are, Read This

  • This is very interesting! I just read it to a group over brunch and we discussed our skipping habits. We concluded that in our experience stronger engagement really does lead to more skips because road trip music is different from cleaning music is different from chilling out with friends music. If we are actively listening, it needs to match our mood and atmosphere in the moment, but if we aren’t actually paying attention to what is playing, it might play in the background forever.

  • I suspect that this is another reason why the DJ culture is blowing up right now. Play about 20 seconds of a track, drop in some could sound effects and layer in the next twenty second snip it. Lather-rinse-repeat.

  • Song skipping existed back in the old days too. You’d just tape your album and miss out the tracks you didn’t like.

  • The turntable was right beside my bed when I was in high school, and the cassette deck had one of those features where it would fast forward to the next silent part on the tape. Song skipping was never that difficult.


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