The Benefits of Using Streaming Data to Pick Music

As on-demand music streaming has become THE manner in which most folks consume music these days, Bridge Ratings has found a growing group of radio station clients that rely on the weekly data we provide.

The reason our on-demand streaming clients align their music rotations closely with our on-demand music streaming data is because it works.

80% of our clients with at least six months using our data have seen the following improvements in audience:

a. Increased daily listening occasions
b. More minutes spent listening with each occasion
c. Increasing daily and weekly cume audience.
d. Resulting in increases in ratings reflected by Nielsen.

Don't pay attention to the myths about streaming research. Actual field experience shows these facts to be true: 

1. On-demand music streaming reflects actual music consumption because users are self-selecting the songs they listen to and listening to those songs frequently and for weeks at a time.

2. Streaming on-demand music is more akin to listening to the radio than any other type of music research because streaming listening behavior mirrors radio listening. Call out research and auditorium testing rely on short hooks of songs played to a small sample of possible station listeners. This is not the way people listen to music.

Believe us: people don't listen to their favorite songs this way and based on our research, fatigue and boredom impact these types of research scores.

3. Streaming data reflects the total spectrum of consumption: positive, negative and neutral. By focusing in on station format, demographics, local market data and listener streaming data, the Bridge Ratings streaming reports are much more granular, i.e. station-specific than broad-based, national rankers of streaming music.

Songs that are not popular over time do not maintain rank status. These songs either don't rank in the top 100 each week or they simply die on the vine as mid-charters. Saying that on-demand streaming research doesn't reflect songs people don't like is inaccurate.

4. Airplay charts only occasionally reflect actual music consumption.

More often than not published airplay charts are built on consensus, i.e. hundreds of station playlists are merged together to present an overall ranking of how much airplay songs are receiving on those stations. Programmers often depend on these airplay charts to align their music categories. This approach simply does not reflect market and station specific listener behavior. Adding to this, record labels are always interested in seeing their new releases climb these consensus charts so record promo folks can encourage other stations to play the record, whether that record is appropriate or not.

Use of market-specific, format-specific and listeners specific on-demand streaming data is a far more effective way to reflect true listening consumption.

5. Streaming data is a true reflection of actual consumption. The data is sensitive to the popularity of a song and any associated fatigue. When people slow down or stop their streaming of a song, its rank falls and either settles at a spot on the chart where it lives for some months (Walk the Moon's "Shut Up & Dance"), or it fades into ranking below 100.

6. With billions of streams nationally, and thousands at the market and station level, on-demand streaming produces a significantly better "sample" than any other music research. These large samples, even in small markets, reduce the margin of error so significantly that the data is consistent week to week providing a higher degree of data trust than any music research available.

7. In our experience of working with on-demand streaming data for more than two years with our client stations using the data weekly, streaming data more often than not is ahead of the curve.

Not only does streaming data pick up popularity immediately, it often is far ahead of record labels in determining successful hits and follow-up hits.

One example of this phenomenon is the Chris Stapleton song "Tennessee Whiskey" which immediately flashed to the top of the Country radio streaming charts right after Chris received his armful of Country Music Awards in 2015.

While the televised awards show was still on, we saw "Tennessee Whiskey" climb to top 10 status. The song has remained in the top 30 since, yet gets little radio airplay.


From our feedback from our station programmers and music directors, many had not been serviced with the song by Stapleton's label so they couldn't play it. Because so many stations stayed off the song, it never saw any significant chart action on the published airplay charts, yet the song remains hot with Country listeners.

For programmers that rely on these published charts they are missing one of the most popular Country music songs of the year.

Undiscovered songs listeners are consuming at high levels but which radio has ignored is another benefit of on-demand streaming research.

There are numerous examples of this phenomenon.  Also in the Country format, this week and last saw the new Florida Georgia Line song "Smooth" break out in the Country top 10 in Nationally and in many of our markets. It doesn't appear on any airplay chart yet.

While there may be "limitations" in most types of research, on-demand streaming eliminates most research negatives and if you are thinking about using streaming data or are using it. consider these real-world examples of on-demand streaming use cases as confirmation the data works to properly align radio playlists with that of its listeners.

As one of our staunch supporting station owners proclaimed when the ratings book was released after using our data for six months or more, "This sh*t works!".