Music Business

Skip Rates: Why The First 30 Seconds Matter More Than Ever

image from upload.wikimedia.orgWith the album on the wane and attention spans shorter than ever, the first 30 seconds of of a song matter more than.  Not only do they need to capture the listener's attention, but in streaming, they determine if the songwriter is going to get paid at all. 

Skip rates can make or break a song, a record or even an artist's career. On a practical level, royalties don't kick in until at least 30 seconds of a song have played. But in an era where data is driving A&R and marketing decisions as well as playlists driven by algorithms, exactly how long a listeners stays engaged with a song matters more than ever.


As a songwriter and producer, Warren “Oak” Felder’ work includes hits for Nicki Minaj (“Your Love”), Usher (“Good Kisser”) and Alessia Cara (“Here”), and until last year, hed never heard of  a skip rate. “That word was not uttered,” Felder tells Rolling Stone , “Now there are conversations we all have as songwriters — ‘yeah, we just want the skip rate of this song to be super low.'”

“Here are the numbers; numbers don’t lie.”

“Data comes back [from YouTube] and it’s like, ‘videos that have intros longer than 20 seconds have less playback value,'” says Alexander “AE” Edwards, A&R VP at Def Jam. “So if an artist is going to start a video off with a 30-second scene of them running in the bank and robbing the bank, it’s like, ‘people might not watch this because they don’t want to sit through 30 seconds of no music.’ We have those conversations within the label and with the artists: ‘Maybe the intro has to be 15 seconds; this is why; here are the numbers; numbers don’t lie.'”

“Skip rates are a funny thing for a few reasons,” according Billie Eilish co-manager Danny Rukasin. “You’re looking at an aggregate — every single listener’s skip rate in a given playlist. But some artists have core fans that are going to listen no matter what. Those are the people that you should care about. You obviously care about the mass audience as well, but when you’re trying to pull it all into one ratio, I think you’re missing a lot of details you should be paying attention to.”

H/T Rolling Stone


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