I am a huge fan of rock and metal, in particular all things experimental/progressive. It is fairly common for prog albums to feature extended track lengths, and or the last year or so, the longest songs on my playlist have all been from TOOL. On their newest album (Fear Inoculum) the shortest non-filler track clocks in at 10:20, and the longest at 15:43. When I first discovered TOOL, I thought their song lengths were ridiculous. Now I'm finding rock/metal songs that are over an hour long (Fantômas' Delirium Cordia is 74:17!). Don't even get me started on the craziness that is Sleep.

My question is, for artists hoping to make a living off their music, is there a sizable audience for songs of these lengths? In 2020, do metalheads really have sufficient attention spans to not be bored out of their minds? Or is it more sensible to split up long songs into multiple tracks, e.g. TOOL's Wings for Marie (Pt. 1) and 10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2)?

Thanks in advance!

1 Answer 1


I find it hard to believe that a band (any genre, not just rock) can produce a song over an hour long and retain enough musical interest to satisfy anything but the most die-hard fans. Maybe there's some kind of macho competition going on (who has the longest?). Unless they're streamed, tracks are often sold at a fixed price per track, so this would also seem to make no economic sense.
This would only make sense if it's a concert recording where the band plays a whole continuous set.
Jazz musicians have often produced very long recordings. John Coltrane would sometimes improvise for 45 minutes at a time, but you'd have to be real specialist to enjoy listening to that on a recording. A lot of classical works are over an hour long, but there's often a lot of variety within a piece, and listening to such a long piece can be very exhausting.

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