I often wonder if the notion of ‘our’ faulting attention span is not necessarily a product of the ever growing access to stimuli. Moreover, there appears to be a shift in the day-to-day-priorities of the consumer, and I increasingly think the product is more at fault than its availability. There seems to be a consensus among industry professionals that the average listener is getting lazy, our attention-span shorter, and the only way to combat this is to further compartmentalize an art form that is already so ridden with do’s and don’ts that it has becomes painstakingly obvious that it’s not really art anymore: Commerce first, art somewhere down the line.
The main problem does not lie with rules or formula alone. Who am I to critique someone’s personal vision of their art and craft? To create a short and sweet pop-song requires practice and skill many cannot attain in a lifetime, and that’s not and has never been the issue. The problem lies in its codependency on its format’s requirements: this weird symbiosis between formula and format that is increasingly giving way to a meaningless race for instant gratification by artists, labels, and curators, and will continue to limit and restrict how music is being consumed.
The digital age should have been the antidote. Television’s a prime example (pun not intended) of a format that has increasingly demanded more from its audience as it has become more readily available through streaming. The ambition is higher than ever. Why shouldn’t music be allowed to do the same? The single as medium was originally just a product of the technical limitations of early phonograph records, not a prerequisite for how it must be today. It’s almost perplexing how those who condition the ears of the average listener also condition the voice of the artist.
Let songs be the songs they intended to be.