A Calgary radio station is cutting songs in half so to not “bore” listeners

on August 07, 2014, 1:59pm

If you’re reading this sentence, it’s a given you like music. (Or, you got lost somewhere looking for guacamole recipes on Pinterest.) But you’re probably too busy with work and school and a social life to really listen to the thousands upon thousands of songs floating around in the ether, right? Luckily, Calgary radio station AMP Radio has your back, as they’ve started cutting their songs in half. At least that means more of a chance to hear “Stairway to Heaven”, amirite?

As the Financial Post reports, AMP, which plays a mix of Top 40 and Adult Alternative, is the latest station to make use of the Quickhitz format. In this particular approach, AMP edits the usual three or four-minute songs into two-minute “snippets.” With less actual music, they can now play 24 songs an hour over the 12-per-hour of most other stations Even the commercial breaks are shortened, clocking in at nine minutes as opposed to the industry standard of 12 minutes. (So, it’s not all so terribly bad then.)

In a statement on their website, AMP explained they’re “redefining how conventional stations play music as it adapts to our ever so short attention spans,” adding that the editing process will ensure “the listener does not get bored.”

Quickhitz was originally developed last September by the Vancouver-based consulting firm Sparknet Communications. Several other stations in the US have already picked up on the format, with Quickhitz set to expand into markets in Australia and the UK in the coming months. So, what’s the consensus thus far? “A lot of people can’t detect the music has been edited,” said Hillary Hommy, Sparknet’s vice-president of brands and networks. And, lo, thus did the angels weep and the ground did shake with a mighty fury.

Of course, as much fervor as the decision might raise with ardent music fans, it does make sense. As AUX points outs, the attention span of the average adult has dropped by a third, falling from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in a report last year. It’s even worse when it comes to the Web: Most users will click away from a “slow-loading” website in less than five seconds.

Steve Jones, Vice President of Programming for AMP’s parent company Newcap Radio, told the Calgary Herald that they’re simply adapting to the times and working to “update” the operating procedures of radio:

When you think about why songs are the length they are it goes back to the ’50s and ’60s. If you wanted to be on the radio or you wanted to be in a jukebox, which is how people heard their music back then, you had to be on a 45 RPM record. So that was the way it was done. And here we are 60 years in the future where every medium — TV, print, obviously Internet — everything is being revolutionized and how content is being digested is changing. And radio has yet to question why things are the way they are. As we look to people’s changing habits and changing attention spans and watch people on their iPod listening to half a song and forwarding on to the next one we sort of came to the conclusion that maybe it was time to rethink why songs are the way they were.

Even if the decision does make sense given the behaviors of the modern radio audience, I’d like to take a second to pontificate. As a boy, I enjoyed listening to the radio because I wasn’t in control. Unlike my Walkman, I had to sit through the terrible stuff or the mundane stuff in order to get to the songs that I really loved. And that taught me all about the satisfaction of patience and also made me appreciate my favorite songs that much more. Plus, you can’t truly understand a song, whether it’s Mozart or Skrillex, until you hear it the whole way through. It’s like eating a four-course meal and stopping midway through the entree.

OK, old man Coplan is done. For more on Quickhitz, head here. Below, check out the longest possible song I could find on YouTube, the 69-minute “The Devil Glitch”:


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September 18, 2014 at 10:41 am

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Garry Speake
August 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm

I wish someone at COS would do the research to find out if that if by playing less of a song or only a certain length of a song, then someone is avoiding paying a fee collected by BMI, ASCAP, SESAC or whomever that goes to publishing company’s & then to royalty’s for the songwriter or artists. I had an idea that there may be that angle to this. Someone doesn’t want to have to pay for using music. Its possible I’m wrong but I hope you (& others) will do the research & find out. Thanks.

August 18, 2014 at 10:56 am

I work in radio – I promise, they’re still paying. We get a package from ASCAP/BMI in the mail every so often asking me to upload my airplay details for a certain period of time. My understanding is that broadcast companies pay a flat fee for the publishers each year and we periodically show them what we’ve played so they know how to divide it up. (Remember that American radio does not pay a performance fee. That’s a whole other conversation.)

August 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm

single track, 74:17

Cameron Muhic
August 9, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Not only short attention spans, but short history spans as well. The actual determinate of music were the 78 rpm records of the 20′s and 30′s which clocked in at about 3 1/2 mins max per side. .45′s were simply an updatted version of the 78 that were lighter and cheaper to produce and in comparison to 78s very difficult to break

August 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Chris – i’m not sure if citing my Devil Glitch song helps or hurts the point you are trying to make! btw – it’s now over three hours long online: best/CButler

Gary Parks (@gedster314)
August 8, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Some of my favorite songs clock in at over 10 minutes. I stopped listening to radio in the mid 90s. Los Angeles radio as sucked for a long time. Thank god I can stream stations and podcasts that play real music. The music industry can suck it, I will support independent and local bands.

Gary Parks (@gedster314)
August 8, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Some of my favorite songs clock in at over 10 minutes. I stopped listening to radio in the mid 90s. Los Angeles radio as sucked for a long time. Thank god I can stream stations and podcasts that play real music. The music industry can suck it, I will support independent and local bands.

Here’s my contribution for a long song.

Stew Douglas
August 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Private sector is all about the money. So be it. The artists and the music became secondary a long time ago. This concept continues the trend, if not worse.

August 8, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Here’s 16 minutes of Mogwai Fear Satan. A classic ambient instrumental rock riff, that will help make your day better.

August 8, 2014 at 2:03 am

VH1 cuts songs down when reviewing for the top 20 countdown. Annoying when it’s a song I like. Relief when I am not so fond of it. If I wanted the swong cut in half I’d change the channel and if you cut out the favorite part of my fave song I’ll scream!!!!!!!

August 7, 2014 at 10:10 pm

This mostly makes me angry. Thank the gods old and new that I don’t have to rely on commercial radio to hear music.

August 7, 2014 at 6:07 pm

This was tried in Dublin with 98FM about 10 years ago. Listeners weren’t too impressed.

Ben Gilbey
August 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Pandering to people’s inability to attend for more than a few seconds is not going to help in the long run. Also, it’s decisions like this that actually decrease people’s attentions spans! The ability to pay attention to something is not some independent capacity that is unconditioned by external stimuli. Shortening songs just facilitates a lack of attention, feeds it and nourishes it, not to mention that it destroy’s the piece of music.

August 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm


reel george
August 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm

It’s like TWITTER but for radio! Fab – listeners punch out in the middle of a song anyway, either on radio or on their own players so it’s just doing it for them so they stay put on one channel. Finally – a radio station geared to today’s busy, busy generation.

August 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm

you are a fucktard


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