Sped up: a new way to listen to music?


TikTok has succeeded in introducing a new way of listening to music: Sped up. If you spend hours scrolling on TikTok, you’ve probably heard these accelerated tunes that get stuck in your head for ages. A true success on the platform, the hashtag #SpedUpSounds has nearly 10 billion views.

Is this trend beneficial or detrimental to the music industry and to artists themselves? And how does the popularity of sped-up versions of songs affect the way we listen to and enjoy music?

TikTok homepage
Straight from TikTok, the trend of speeding up songs has become very popular, with the hashtag #SpedUpSounds reaching nearly 10 billion views.

What is “Sped up”?

Many teenagers now listen to sped-up music, that is to say an accelerated version, a trend popularized by the Chinese social network. Initially, this technique was used by professionals to give a faster rhythmic feel to a track, or to adjust the pitch of a voice or instrument. A technique that must be properly understood, as its use can lead to tonal transposition and a loss of overall quality.

Usually sped up by amateurs on TikTok, these tunes are confusing for those who are not familiar with this phenomenon, usually creating much higher pitched voices. Faster, the tempo often exceeds 150 BPM (beats per minute) and makes your favorite song unrecognizable.

Sennheiser HD 350 BT headphones on vinyl records
Just like one could have fun increasing the speed of vinyl records, the “Sped up” technique consists in accelerating the tempo of the music, generally exceeding 150 BPM.

A TikTok trend that influences artists

To meet the demand of fans who enjoy the sped-up sound, artists have released accelerated versions of their songs on streaming platforms. Spotify has even created a playlist dedicated to this genre. Demi Lovato, Shakira and The Weeknd already succumbed to the sped-up trend several months ago. Some versions have even become more popular than the originals!

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“Using accelerated versions of some artists gives the song a new lease of life. We released a sped-up version of ‘Me gustas tu’ and it is now ranked third in Manu Chao‘s top songs.”

Emmanuel de Buretel, director of the label Because.

Sped up: drawbacks

While it may offer opportunities for old songs to benefit from a new lease of life and for independent artists to gain notoriety, this new way of listening to music could become a problem for the music industry.

Indeed, these accelerated versions are often modified and shared by people who have no rights to the original titles. This phenomenon, if not regulated, risks infringing on the rights of authors and exploiting original music. Professionals are therefore on the alert and are calling for new legislation to better regulate the sped-up phenomenon.

TikTok profile on TikTok
The sped-up trend could cause problems for the music industry due to the risk of copyright infringement and the modification of original songs by unauthorized third parties.

According to Billboard, it also has a financial impact on DJs, with artists spending less money on a sped-up version rather than a remix.

“It used to be that club remixes were used to give a song new exposure, in order to promote the original version. But now, people are discovering the original version from the Sped up or Slowed down versions […] Instead of paying $50,000 for a remix from a big-name DJ, artists are spending less on a sped up version and making a better profit.”

Nima Nasseri, vice-président de la stratégie A&R chez Universal Music.
Read: Can a cover version be better than the original?

Sped-up on TikTok: a trend that puts your attention span to the test

The popularity of “Sped up” versions of music is part of a broader trend of accelerated content consumption, notably of podcasts, YouTube videos and even audiobooks. This practice is all the more relevant on TikTok, where videos are of short duration and consumed in large quantities.

“Listening to music increases the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, the ‘happy hormone’ often associated with pleasure. Every time we listen to a song we like, we are essentially rewarding ourselves on a neurochemical level,” explains Emmelyne Jack, a PhD student in neurology at the University of Melbourne. She continues: “listening to fast-paced music repeatedly can have detrimental effects. It is therefore crucial to raise awareness of overstimulation, which can lead to shortened attention spans and difficulty concentrating.”

  • Sped up on Netflix
  • Sped up on YouTube
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The Sped up trend launched on TikTok is therefore a great success, attracting many followers and influencing the artists themselves. However, this new way of listening to music also raises concerns about its negative impact on the music industry, copyright, but also the ability of listeners to concentrate. And you, do you think that this new way of listening to music will prove to be durable or temporary?

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