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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Variations In Attention Spans For Audiences For Popular Music

   As I've described previously, popular music entails a necessary relationship between artist and audience.  A successful artist will need to transition from the smaller audiences of music professionals, active music consumers, local diy scenes and other artists to the larger audiences of "people who only listen to music on the radio in their car;" "people who only listen to satellite radio.", "people who only buy music after they hear it on a television advertisement" and, generally speaking, "young people."
   Various audiences can be imagined as overlapping circles resembling a venn diagram, enclosed by a huge circle that is "everyone in the world who buys music."  Each artist starts at a certain spot, a different spot, by appealing to a specific audience.  Often that initial audience is "artist's friends" or "a local diy scene."  It's important to understand that the smaller the audience, the more variable the attention span.  Some small, highly interested audiences for new artists have an attention span that lasts about one third of a day.
  For example, the lower echelons of music blogs- people who will blog about three different artists day- have an attention span that essentially lasts for the duration that the post is at the top of his/her blog.  A slightly longer attention span is displayed by the music professional audience, which works on a quarter to quarter/year to year basis.
  However, the ultimate goal is to capture the attention of an audience whose attention SPAN is lengthy.  Unfortunately these audiences are either tiny (dedicated fan base for any specific artist) or ENORMOUS (the general public.)  In between there are a bunch of audiences whose interest or lack of an interest in a specific artists will be governed by strict, invariable attention spans that are unique to each particular audience.
  The saving grace to this analysis is that you can always know exactly what the general public is paying attention to by looking at the Billboard Top 200 Chart.  An appearance on the Chart is itself proof that a specific artist has succeeded in drawing the attention of the general public in an objective, measurable, quantifiable fashion.
  Any artist seeking attention needs to understand the size of their audience, how that audience finds out about music and most importantly: the attention span of the audience they are seeking.

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