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Fifteen minutes of fame lasts a bit longer for artists who hit pop charts

CU Denver research findings may help aspiring musicians plan for the future

1/19/2012
Storm Gloor


By Erika Matich | University Communications

DENVER - A detailed analysis of American pop music data  shows musicians that hit the album charts spend, on average, a little more than five years there. More than one third will be 'one-hit wonders.' That's according to a study by Storm Gloor, MBA, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver's College of Arts and Media (CAM). Gloor teaches music business and marketing classes.

The study, "Just How Long is Your Fifteen Minutes?  An Empirical Analysis of Artist's Time on the Popular Charts," is the first phase of a research project to determine how the popularity of an artist and the length of their career have been affected by changes in the music industry. Data from more than 50 years of Billboard music charts was used in the first phase of the study.

It shows artists maintain their presence on the album charts for anywhere from 3.95 -6.16 years, depending on various chart criteria. Thirty-four percent of artists who debut on the album charts only hit the charts once. On the pop singles chart that figure rises to nearly 50 percent. The paper is included in the 2011 edition of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association (MEIEA) Journal, a peer-reviewed academic publication, published this month. The study was funded in part by a grant from MEIEA.

"The research is important to aspiring artists in understanding their own long-term planning in light of such realities. They need to know what they are facing as they start planning for their careers and beyond," said Gloor, who teaches in CU Denver's Department of Music and Entertainment Industry Studies.

The second phase of the project examines trends in the music business and their effect on the duration of the popularity of charting artists. Preliminary information shows artists may become nationally recognized sooner in their careers but may not maintain their popularity as long.

"In that phase of the study I'll be taking more of a longitudinal look at artists' chart presence as the music marketplace has changed through the years," said Gloor.

He points out music companies could also benefit from the research by using the information to develop strategies for promoting artists in the future.

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Contact: erika.matich@ucdenver.edu, 303-524-2780

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