For almost a hundred years Billboard has been producing music charts, and artists that have a single hit then drop into oblivion have always played a major part in them. These “1 hit wonders” either come and go (like Keith’s “98.6” in 1967) or hit the oldies circuit (Nena with “99 Luft Ballons” in 1983), but every year the charts are littered with them.
Guest Post by Bobby Owsinski on Music 3.0 Blog
There are fewer and fewer 1 hit wonders every year.
An analysis of the last 50 years of Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart by Priconomics found that in recent years the number of artists with a hit has declined to an all-time low.
Why? For one thing, songs now stay on the charts longer than at any time in history. Before 1985 it was uncommon for a song to stay on the charts for more than 50 weeks but now it happens regularly, like Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” at 54 weeks and counting. Now a Katy Perry song is likely to stay on the charts nearly 3 times longer than the average Beatles hit from the 60s.
Obviously, the music industry would rather there be more hits as it would be better for business and possibly build more careers. Radio, unfortunately, doesn’t see it that way.
Radio needs listener attention to keep its ratings, so it’s to their benefit to play songs that everyone knows for as long as it can.
That said, the music business is putting much more energy into promoting established artists than trying break someone new, which perpetuates the cycle.
Regardless, there are fewer new hits to listen to every month, and we’re all the worse for it. Just image how boring oldies radio will be 20 years from now.