Shortening Length of Music, Simple Ears
Shortening Length of Music, Simple Ears
  • Lee Yun-so (ST Reporter)
  • 승인 2023.01.13 14:15
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In the past, our favorite music usually lasted more than three minutes, and there were even songs that were more than five minutes long. However, there is now a growing number of compositions with a concise and addictive melody and its repetitive form in less than three minutes. Let us look at the motivation and the trend behind this change ......................Ed


     On Melon, Korea‘s representative music platform, there is a TOP 100 chart that shows the music that the public listens to the most. The longest-running song in the top 10 is BLACKPINK‘s Pink Venom, which plays for 3 minutes and 7 seconds. Most of the music in the chart is around three minutes long, while music that runs for two minutes, which was rare a few years ago, is now becoming a trend.

     In the early days of popular music, in 1887, Emile Berliner created a record label called SP (Standard-Playing Record). This record is very poor in 
quality compared to current standards. It was fragile because it was vulnerable to shock, and could only record about four minutes of music on one side. 
However, at that time, it was evaluated as an innovative technology, and was mass-produced and widely distributed. The LP (Long-Playing Record) was 
later developed, but only after people had already become accustomed to pop music that ran from three to five minutes. Therefore, LP was used to contain 
classical music or produced albums containing several songs at once. Of course, there was long music, too. Bob Dylan continued his music career with beliefs rather than commercial purposes, releasing Like a Rolling Stone that ran for more than six minutes. Led Zeppelin and Queen also released songs that ran for more than five minutes.
     However, after the era of radio, the running time of music did not change despite the rapid development of technology. It is even getting shorter. This is due to the introduction of streaming services and the public’s concentration. Nowadays, streaming services are replacing old LP and radio in music. This is because the streaming era, in which copyright fees are paid according to the number of times music is played, has come, and there is no need to make music long. It can be said that the beginning of the heyday of K-pop was Wonder Girls‘ Tell Me, and this song is characterized by its hook. Early hook songs used short words so many times in the lyrics of the song, which the public easily accepted and gained a strong impression. Moreover, as the digital music market became dominant and produced music that became easily popular, the running time of the music tended to be shorter. The 60-second preview function increased the number of songs by using the chorus early on.
     Indeed, the revenue distribution model of streaming services based on the number of playbacks had a great influence on the running time of the 
music. But the bigger reason was that the public started demanding songs that caught their ears instantly. In the past, phonographs could only record two to three minutes of music, so most of the hits in the 1920s and 50s were that long. In the history of the music industry, the running length of songs has also been extended due to the growing tendency of media, such as LP, cassette tapes, and CD (Compact Disc). However, as the era of physical media has ended, and the era of streaming is here, our favorite music is returning to a simple direction as a result of technology and economic logic. The world is going too fast, and the speed of what we see, hear, and feel is also getting faster. In such a fast and simple world, can we focus again on slow and complex things?


Lee Yun-so (ST Reporter)

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