When You Stream Music, There’s a 24% Chance You’ll Skip a Song Within the First Five Seconds. This Isn’t Good.

Streaming services such as Songza, Deezer, Rdio, iTunes Radio, Spotify.  They all and all the rest of them are hamstrung by a series of licensing regulations demanded by the rights holders.  If you use any of these services, you’ll know that you have the ability to skip (usually) up to six songs in an hour.  That’s one of those licensing demands.

Even though the ability to skip is limited, this is still an opportunity to study the behaviours associated with skipping songs. Check out this graph published today by RAIN and created by Paul Lamere, who works for music data company The Echo Nest (which is now part of Spotify).

The y axis measures the percentage of listeners while the x axis is the percentage of the song heard.

Song skipping behaviour


I find this interesting and a bit disturbing.

1. It shows that people have little tolerance for something they don’t want to hear or avoid because it’s unfamiliar/weird/something they don’t like/something they don’t want to take the time to learn about. Almost a quarter of users judge a song on its first five seconds.  Is this an indication of the dumbing down of the music fan?

2. If this behaviour persists, how will the industry and songwriters respond?  How will they try to keep people listening for more than five seconds?

3. A better question might be “How will the industry and songwriters keep people from skipping so quickly?”

4. What does this

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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