How On-Demand Music Streaming Helps Radio Programmers

With our continuing studies and analysis of on-demand streaming, Bridge Ratings has exposed perhaps a critical behavior problem facing broadcast radio programmers.

On-demand streaming analysis repeatedly reveals that music consumption by radio listeners today includes many songs from the recent past and handfuls of songs released in the 70s, 80's and 90s.

Broadcast radio has a tendency to play new releases and current hits in a graduated exposure process. The more popular the song, the more "plays" that song gets on air over time. Listeners have generally proven to like this approach.

And when radio programmers are informed through research or gut instinct that a song has reached its maximum exposure level, song play will be reduced or eliminated depending again on the song's popularity.

But does radio move too fast with this approach to exposing music?

Are popular songs vanishing from the average listener's "radar" long  before they tire of them?

Through analysis of on-demand streams the largest group of on-line music consumers - the "passive majority" (51% of all music consumers) - is slower to reach fatigue levels of their favorite songs than previously thought.  Actual behavior is proving that there is a desire to hear recent songs for a long period of time.

Bridge Ratings' analysis of thousands of songs would confirm this notion.
This chart compares video and audio on-demand streaming.  The number of songs streamed is shown by year of release.  Popularity of songs released in recent years remains high.

Source: Nielsen Music

Click on image to enlarge.

Of last week's top 100 most-streamed Pop songs on-demand, 32% were released in 2012 or 2013! For listeners, the year the song was released may have little to do with their desire to hear it. We're learning that a favorite is a favorite regardless of its year-of-release and that throughout the life of the average music consumer, there are songs that continue to be important and want to be heard.

Can Gold be Current?

In an analysis of a recent week of on-demand streaming the Evanescence song "My Immortal" from 2003 was ranked as the 25th most-streamed rock song. Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" was number 20 on that same chart!

What we're seeing in real-world consumption through on-demand streaming is a behavior that is as old as music itself. Listeners to music have favorites and those favorites can live in the forefront of a music consumer's listening preferences for long stretches of time.

In many cases we see radio stations ignoring this behavior perhaps at their own expense by reducing or eliminating airplay.

This behavioral "easter egg" is one music programmers should keep in mind.

Dave Van Dyke
Bridge Ratings

Thanks to Nielsen Music for the data necessary for this analysis.