Rock and Pop Musicians! Please Make Two and a Half Minute Songs!

I don’t get it.

Everyone knows that the attention spans of people are getting shorter yet rock musicians (people who are appealing to those with the shortest attention spans), keep making songs that are getting longer.

According to the website: Attention Span Statistics data:

“The average attention span in 2012, 8 seconds. The average attention span in 2000, 12 seconds.”

Yet, people keep making pop and rock songs longer and longer! Ever since Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which was six minutes long, pop and rock musicians keep making songs over four, even five minutes! Is this counter-intuitive? Or just plain dumb?

I think it’s dumb. Let me tell you why…

I program and select all the music for a very popular morning drive-time program in Tokyo. Our service area covers 35 million homes, so it’s huge. I know that many people like me (I’ve asked) have agreed that the “perfect pop/rock song” is 2.5 minutes long.

Yet musicians keep sending us their new singles and the songs are all over four minutes. I hate it!

It’s just plain, well, dumb. Why?

OK. It’s simple. Did you know that there are ten times more listeners at 7 am than there are at 7 pm (due to people driving in the morning)? Did you also know (at least in Japan’s case) that the average listener listens to FM radio for only twenty minutes at a time? That’s right.

Now, morning shows (the ones with, by far, the highest ratings) need a quick tempo and a fast pace. We don’t have time to screw around. We have to get lots of information, news, weather, sports, traffic, commercials and music shoved into the shortest time span possible. That means we play lots of short songs in the mornings (when, as I mentioned, the ratings are highest)… That means we (well, I won’t) play any songs at all that push the 3:15 mark. I greatly prefer short songs. (See my show webpage and song list here: … Scroll down. You can see that nearly all songs before 8:30 am – peak drive time – are under 2:45!)

If you send me a 2:30 song, then I will greatly consider that for airplay during the peak times… But, if you send me a 5 minute song? Yeah, later on in the show… Or never. Long songs are difficult to use.

Of course, I’m talking about the fun shows that are on in the mornings (did I say the ratings = more listeners – were higher at that time? I did? Thanks.)

That means, in my case, I will play short, up-tempo songs like early Beatles, Stones, Ramones at peak times to get the listeners pumped-up and ready to go in the mornings. We don’t do easy listening…

It used to be that, long ago, songs were always under 3 minutes. What happened? I don’t know. But this “long song” business is foolish.

It’s simple; if you want your songs played when there are the most listeners, then make them short. If you can’t say it in 2.5 minutes, then you need to work on it.

Of course, there is a time and place for longer songs…. But generally not on the highly rated morning shows… I’m trying to wake people up in the morning and cram in as much as I can in the shortest space I can…

Knowing this, you wanna make long songs?

Your call.

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Lord Polonius from Shakespeare’s Hamlet 1602

NOTE: Oh, and PS: If you are a new musician, then make sure you “Like” the FB pages of the radio programs you are (or want to) promote to. Our FB page is here: