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One Hit Wonder? You’ve Got 3.95 Years

Just under four years of public profile for a one-hit wonder? So how come 'Shaddap a' Your Face' is still stuck in my head after thirty-odd years?

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).

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 fifty percent.

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.

Source: University of Colorado Denver
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.


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