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Midia Research’s latest blog post digs in to how the structure of music hits has changed over the past 20 years, albeit with a limited dataset: the Billboard top 10 in July 2000 and July 2020. It offers four main conclusions.

First, songs are shorter overall: a 16% decrease from an average length of four minutes and 22 seconds in 2000 to three minutes and 42 seconds now.

Second, hip-hop accounts for 60% of the top 10 in the 2020 chart, while the 2000 rankings were split evenly between pop, rock and R’n’B.

Third, there are now an average of four credited songwriters on each top 10 track, compared to 2.4 back in 2000. Fourth, the percentage of top 10 tracks with featured artists – collaborators/guests – has jumped from zero to 60% over the 20 years.

“The dominant theme underpinning these changes in the DNA of hits is reducing risk. More songwriters, more collaborations, shorter songs, shorter intros, fewer genres all point to honing a formula, following a blueprint for success,” suggested Midia’s Mark Mulligan. “This evolution will continue to gather pace until the next format shift rewrites the rules.”

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