What is the “Right” Length For a New Release?

There has long been a debate about what is considered to be the “right” or proper length for a new body of music. Fans of all genres often complain that full-length albums have now become either “too short” or “too long” for them to both fully enjoy and see commercial success. While many albums are only six to seven songs, while others are nearly the 25 song mark, there is a middle ground that artists can find to see maximum revenue gained from a new release. 

In the rap genre specifically, nowadays, many artists often release new albums with 18-24. While this has become the new standard in the streaming era, with the first 30 seconds of each song being required to net income, listeners often replay the tracks much less often as they don’t connect with each song. There is no doubt that diehard fans of the artist will consume the project in full, but it often turns many of the average consumers away. 

In these scenarios, the general population of listeners are more likely to wait a few days after release, then listen to the most popular or highest streamed tracks from the album. This is for the sole reason of feeling oversaturated, as they cannot bear to fully consume that many songs in one sitting. If an album contains a significant amount of tracks, it begins to be looked at as “quantity over quality”. The goal amount to aim for is between 12 and 14 tracks, as it allows the listener to fall in love with each song they hear and give each a consistent replay value. 

Aside from examining the number of tracks on an album, the length of a project in terms of time should be taken into consideration. Some of the best selling albums of all time include Michael Jackson’s Thriller (42 minutes), Bruce Springsteen’s Born in The U.S.A (47 minutes), and Prince’s Purple Rain (44 minutes). 

While these are far from the rap field, they can still be looked to as landmarks in the music industry in terms of album sales and levels of consumption. The most desired length for an album is 45-60 minutes at the most. When artists begin to enter into the 70-90 minute mark, most people are unlikely to consume the album entirely, as people simply don’t have the time or patience to do so. 

When releasing shorter projects, EP’s are generally around 4-6 songs. Since EP’s have much fewer tracks than albums, the EP’s duration isn’t as necessary to heavily consider. Most fans or listeners interested in exploring an artist’s music will be able to consume roughly 10-25 minutes of music without becoming worn out or oversaturated from a new release with a high level of content. 

To keep fans satisfied in between projects, and to stay relevant, it’s wise to drop singles as freely as the artist wishes to. Doing so will keep their name in the public eye for a longer time, while also keeping fans anticipated for the next large release. Releasing music without overloading fans is the best way to maximize the level of consumption for the project. If an artist has more music than the goal level for release, this leaves them with music that can be put on a later EP or project. If an artist plays their cards right and strategizes their releases, they can rise to the top of the charts in no time.