While labels and artists compete with each other on the charts, one of music’s biggest issues is competition from other forms of media.
Attention is a scarce resource, and tech companies have effectively entered an arms race for it. YouTube autoplays more videos, so we forget to leave; Instagram shows new likes one at a time, so we keep checking in; Facebook shows whatever keeps us on screen. The list continues, but the attention span cannot.. A 2015 study by Microsoft suggested that due to digital lifestyles, the human attention span had fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds -- less than that of a goldfish.
There are countless examples of tech companies who require attention to win, and by winning they may cause music to lose. That’s why a better understanding of “attention economics” can unite an already fragmented music industry: it shows how we don’t compete with our competitors -- rather we compete for time spent with media.
Listening to music requires little or no engaged attention, but as media becomes increasingly immersive -- from big budget TV dramas to endlessly addictive mobile gaming -- it becomes harder to consume multiple forms of media simultaneously.