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Mastercard, proud partner of the BRITs for over two decades and sponsor of the highly coveted category ‘Song of the Year’ (SOTY), collaborated with Musicologist, Professor Joe Bennett to develop a piece of research that analyses how music has evolved over 40 years, both in the way it has been created and consumed.

Whilst there is no guaranteed blueprint for success, through analysis of over 300 songs from the past 40 years of The BRIT Awards’ nominees and winners of ‘Song of the Year’, the findings revealed key characteristics of the nation’s favourite hit tracks and how they’ve evolved:

- Social media influence - In the 2000’s platforms like MySpace launched the careers of popular artists like Panic! At The Disco, and You Me At Six. Today, platforms including TikTok, are a major creative influence on new music

- Short song length - In the 80’s the average song length was 4.30, today this has shortened to 3.07

- Shorter song title - Over 50% of the SOTY nominees had one-word titles in 2021, almost double when compared to the 80’s and 90’s (27%)

- Start the song with the chorus - the first winners of SOTY started with verses, winners now typically start with choruses for quicker snappier intros

- Multiple songwriters create the track - Single writer songs were common in the early 1980s but modern tracks average five songwriters

- Heartbreak songs - From the 329 songs analysed 60% of the lyrics were about romantic love

Professor Joe Bennett said: “The BRIT Awards Song of The Year dataset has provided us with wonderful insights into trends in British musical preferences across a 40-year period, since the first Song of The Year award in 1982. We have uncovered noticeable characteristics of songs: track duration, title length, according to new technologies, listener preferences, and cultural trends. There is no perfect way to write a song, ​​though listening to the whole 21-hour playlist it revealed the enormous diversity of artistic approaches and musical styles prevalent in British music between the 1980s and today.”

Agnes Woolrich, Vice President Marketing & Communications, UK&I said: “Music is ever changing, so we were interested to explore how innovation and our changing lifestyles, especially our use of social media, has influenced the creation of music, as well as the different ways in which people enjoy it. These fascinating insights will help us find new ways to connect millions of Mastercard cardholders with their passion for music.


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About Mastercard (UK) Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

About The BRIT Trust
The BRIT Trust is the music industry’s charity, with a mission to improve lives through the power of music, and is funded in large part through monies raised annually by The BRIT Awards and the Music Industry Trusts (MITS) Award. Since its founding by UK record labels and the BPI in 1989, the Trust has distributed over £27 million to a broad range of progressive charities that promote education and wellbeing through music, with over half this amount going to The BRIT School, the UK’s leading performing and creative arts school that is free to attend, and Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s largest music therapy provider. Other charities among many others supported include Mind, to promote good mental health in schools, the music industry and the workplace; Music Support, the addictions and mental health charity; East London Arts & Music (ELAM), the free school sixth form; and Key4Life, which seeks to help young men in prison, or who are at risk of ending up there, a way out from a life of crime by drawing on their passion for music.

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