Let’s lift the shackles imposed by years of being tethered to radio standards and record company “suggestions” (aka requirements.)
There is no actual reason for songs to be limited to 3 minutes. It’s an arbitrary number picked by suits because of some focus group as the “optimal” amount of time to keep people’s attention.
Here’s the why this 3 minute mark is ridiculous. Real fans of the music don’t lose interest in a song after 3 minutes. Actual quality songs don’t get suddenly boring when they go over 180 seconds.
Yes, maybe you can only keep a person interested in a snap-track sound wave that repeats the same 3 phrases over and over and over again for that long. Maybe people who are only fans because they hear it on the radio every hour get bored as it pushes the 4 minute, or dare I say 5 minute mark.
But these are not the people that should be targeted. Why go after a group of people that will drop you from their favorites list as soon as you’re not on the Billboard Hot Country Chart? The group of people that will add a song to a playlist but not go see a show or buy a t-shirt? The group of people who don’t even listen to the whole album, just whatever songs the radio or Spotify playlists decide to feed them?
The industry has this backward, and that’s starting to be proven time and time again, especially by the Red Dirt Scene.
Zero people would have given Zach Bryan a second of their time if you presented them with his raw, acoustic videos on a porch or in a field.
Yet 5 of his most popular YouTube videos are over 4 minutes long, most pushing deep into the 5’s (“Someday On My Mind”, “Mine Again”, “Old Man”, “Birmingham”, and “Messed Up Kid”).
He just plays authentic music to authentic fans.
Two of Whiskey Myers’ most popular and best songs (in my humble opinion, of course), “Stone” and “Broken Window Serenade,” are each over 5 minutes and I dare you to say you’re bored or even want either one to end at the 3 minute mark.
Give me their acoustic version of “Stone” for 24 hours straight and it wouldn’t be enough…
And how about one of, if not the, greatest country band of all-time, the Turnpike Troubadours? “Good Lord Lorrie” is 5 minutes, “7&7” almost 5 and “Long Hot Summer Day” is over 4, not to mention so many others are well into the 4’s and 5’s.
Koe Wetzel, a man who really doesn’t care what “The Man” has to say has a huge catalogue of longer fan favorites like “Austin,” “Ragweed” and “Too High To Cry.”
I could go deeper into this Red Dirt scene, but let’s jump to the mainstream, shall we?
Eric Church with “Springsteen” and “Talladega” are over 4, not to mention the fan favorite deep cut “Lightning” is over 5.
Brothers Osborne’s “Stay A Little Longer” clocks in over 5 minutes and Kip Moore’s unquestionable (once again, in my opinion) best song “Guitar Man” is over 5 minutes. Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” was taken to huge mainstream popularity by Morgan Wallen despite it’s lengthy run time.