Jann Arden has made some of the best records of the last 20 years and is a Canadian treasure. I first heard her when she was signed to A&M Records and have been a fan ever since. So when Jann speaks up about music, I’m all ears.
Jann is speaking up about the latest attack on artist rights: The “QuickHitz” radio format that chops up records.
According to the QuickHitz website:
QuickHitz is a game-changing mass appeal music format built especially for the needs and lifestyle of today’s multitasking, attention challenged listeners. Imagine more music per hour than any other radio station ever! QuickHitz is a break-out alternative to Top 40 radio that immediately repositions the competition with a fresh approach to music discovery and all the interactivity of Social Media. Quite literally, QuickHitz is “twice the music in half the time.”
“Twice the music in half the time”. “How could that be?” you ask. What about that space-time continuum thing?
To accomplish this, popular songs are edited from three or four minutes down to half that length. Commercial breaks are also shortened to approximately nine minutes per hour, instead of the usual 12 minutes on most stations. The goal is to prevent listeners from becoming bored.
Billboard’s radio guru Sean Ross tells us:
For the last decade, some radio people have been advocating a format that edits top 40 hits down to their essentials. Who needs to hear Beyoncé declare that “you’ve got me looking so crazy right now” quite that many times, proponents ask? Couldn’t John Mayer say what he needed to say with less repetition? Are we not a short-attention-span society with less discretionary time for music?
For years, pitching this a format around shortened songs was a pretty good way to send a conference room into polite silence. But in recent years, a few stations have been introducing new songs with one-minute versions, while other PDs have been making songs shorter (or longer) based on their PPM retention scores.
Yes, that’s right. Why not just go all the way to jingles?
One of the QuickHitz stations is AMP Radio in Calgary which is where Jann Arden comes in. According to the Calgary Herald:
As explained to the Herald by Steve Jones, VP of Programming for Newcap Radio — the company that owns almost 100 stations across Canada, including AMP — the QuickHitz format cuts a song in half in order for the station to play more songs, by more artists. The rough estimate is that the new format allows for 24 songs in one hour, compared with an average of 12.
Jones argued that the four-minute song is an archaic practice originally dictated by radio and the 45 RPM, and that the idea of radio edits to get down to that magic three- or four-minutes was used on such epics as Don McLean’s American Pie to current hits such as John Legend’s All of Me.
That’s right–the stations decided to help John Mayer cut to the chase. And if that’s not enough to give you a melt down, I don’t know what it would take:
And this one sums it up:
Jann has started quite the movement on Twitter! It’s important to remember just how much courage it takes for an artist to stand up to the broadcasters no matter what the issue. Remember, all that has to happen is for a broadcaster to get angry with an “uppity” artist, and you could find yourself shut off.
This is why it’s so important for artists like Jann Arden to get our support when she steps up, just like Roseanne Cash, Jimmy Jam, David Lowery, and many others deserve our backing. Never underestimate the power of the broadcasters to retaliate.