LOOK, LOOK! How has our Attention Span Affected the Music Industry?


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The average human attention span is 8 seconds.

The goldfish is 9 seconds.

That’s right. We now have less of an attention span than our fishy friend here.

The online world is strife with content that fights and depends on your attention for merely a minute. (If the above is true, I have lost your attention already.) As every hour passes, avid creators and consumers on the Internet are finding new ways to grab your attention quicker and sooner. Like greedy street sellers, they implore with you, relate with you and confide in you to click, consume and buy with every passing minute and passing hour. Is it any wonder that 30-second videos with TikTok and Instagram Reels has become such a tenacious force? We can’t keep up with anything else. As our attention spans falter furthermore with the presence of these social media outlets that clog and litter up the consumption of culture, the ‘stream-ability’ of music has no doubt come at a cost for the musicality, too.

If consumers can’t keep watching the same video for 3 minutes – how do the expect the same said consumers to listen to a song of the same length?

One person’s gain comes at another’s expense – and this has always been the case for the music industry. With the confines of streaming becoming a waterlogged pipe-dream for musicians to earn a sliver or even a lick of that royalty pie, artists and labels are struggling to fight for attention in a corrosive world where online media is determined with the number of clicks it has.

We determine if we like a song or not within the first 10-20 seconds of us playing it. Skip after skip. We rarely get to the end of a single song. A lower threshold of consumer holding their attention spans, results in quicker introductions and explosive choruses right from the gate. A consumption plan and song restructure we have seen in chart music for years, ever since the music world turned digital. Music consumption is overriding the musicality of artists’ choices and labels’ marketing preparations. We need to steer the ship before it’s too late.


The attention economy is becoming a malign force for culture … ” – Mark Mulligan, Music Industry Blog

View other discussions within the music industry and its struggles below:

Also, be sure to check out Mark’s informative deliverance on this topic via his blog –

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5 responses to “LOOK, LOOK! How has our Attention Span Affected the Music Industry?”

  1. nickreeves avatar

    I both giggled and froze in terror at ‘The average human attention span is 8 seconds.
    The goldfish is 9 seconds’ as it renders the notion of Devo’s debut album coming full circle: ‘Are we not men? We are Devo!’ You are spot on with this. *I am reminded of several interviews/documentaries/ archive footage of music biz A&R/manager types sat at a desk with a pile of demo cassette tapes and a player before them hitting PLAY for several seconds, FF’ing (with some skill) to verse 1 and then FF’ing to the whereabouts of the chorus and then all the way through to the final chord to decide whether something has intrinsic value or not! It always seemed so harsh to me. An impressive skill (to play/ride the tape like that) of course, but actually not only have we all become ‘stars’ these days, we now also seem to be our own A&R arbiters of instant taste.

    Or something!
    Great post!
    *I can’t bring any examples to mind right now, but such footage is out there and, no doubt, will appear shortly in my algorithms!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. manvmusic avatar

      Too right, Nick! I fear it’s taking a toll on us all, this notion of “accessibility trumps all.” Nice relation, too – those archives of fast-forwarding tapes is a skill in its own. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. nickreeves avatar

        Pleasure, mate. Thinking about it, of course everyone is their own arbiter of taste, it’s just that now there’s this implied notion of speed judgement…er, or something (the words are defeating me as my brain rapidly empties!). But, yeah, what he said ^ “accessibility trumps all” – great phrase!

        (‘Top Trump’ cards… they were cool when I was small!) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. manvmusic avatar

        Top Trump eh, what a throwback

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Let’s Talk: Are Music Albums Dead? – Man v Music avatar
    Let’s Talk: Are Music Albums Dead? – Man v Music

    […] our attention spans shrinking to the same as a fish, music has become more consumption-based as opposed to a more musicality-based concept. For avid […]


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