May 8, 2016

Boy, the universe of on-demand streaming data just keeps getting more interesting.

And more helpful to music radio programmers.

So, let me take a moment to speak to the radio programmers out there.

Let me count the ways:

  1. True music consumption by station listeners
  2. Confirm song appeal
  3. Learn what songs are underplayed on air
  4. Learn what songs are overplayed
  5. Discover songs your audience listens to you don't play
  6. Reveal the true lifecycles of the songs you play.
  7. Know what the true hits are

There are many others, but I'll stop at seven.

What's number 5 all about?

Discover songs your audience listens to but you don't play.

That's right. On-demand streaming data uncovers a treasure-trove of information about the music played on radio. The data confirms broadcast radio's role as the player-of-hits.

It also unveils songs your listeners are streaming that aren't on your air.

Radio listeners in 2015 are discovering music in a multitude of ways: sometimes on the radio, through TV shows, movie soundtracks, friends sharing, concert tours and word of mouth.

It's difficult to keep up with such a variety of platforms but on-demand streaming is the tool to find those undiscovered hits.

In studying music consumption for five widely popular radio formats, Bridge Ratings looked at a recent single week of music consumption on-demand. Platforms used for this analysis were pure on-demand such as Spotify and YouTube.

The analysis looked at Classic Rock Mainstream R&B, Country, Adult Top 40 (Hot AC) and Mainstream Top 40.

For this analysis we looked at format gold, songs older than three years.

Regardless of music format, we were able to find a number of titles that did not appear on the stations monitored during that week.

In every format we looked into we found undiscovered gems that radio programmers were not playing.

Some formats revealed deep wells of undiscovered songs: Classic Rock (121) and Triple A (243) to name two.

A percentage of the undiscovered songs may well be "un-played" songs from libraries and were resting for some reason, but as the the following chart shows, the larger percentage of undiscovered songs non-library material in every format - except Country - exceeded 60% of the songs found.

We are learning so much through the analysis of on-demand streaming about true music consumption today. In the past consumers of popular music relied on broadcast radio to curate and expose the songs that were purchased.

Today's technology has turned this notion on its head. Music consumers are often discovering songs and artists that broadcast radio has not which further reduces the need for broadcast radio by the most active music consumers.

And the old model of hit music metrics really no longer applies.

If there's one thing on-demand music streaming has taught us is that it has changed the definition of what a "hit" is today.

"Hits" are more often achieved by the longevity of song consumption rather than how many purchases or downloads that song achieves.

Bridge Ratings now uses a longevity metric to help us understand how a true hit today should be defined. A soon-to-be published report on this aspect of song lifecycle will provide more in-depth understanding.

Used to be a song, artist or album's popularity was defined by sales. The purchase of a record is really only the beginning, isn't it?

We've never had the ability to track a song's popularity once the purchase has been made. Today we do and broadcast radio's ability to understand true consumption will lead it to true "hit" music and undiscovered gems.

Data source: Nielsen Music