The same songs, over and over ...

Ever wondered why commercial radio stations seem to play the same songs over

and over again?  Strip back the critics and complaints and you begin to understand

the science behind the heavily crafted playlist.  Tailor made to specific

demographics, if done correctly a radio station can lead the way in audience

numbers and advertising revenue.


Commercial radio is in the business of growing listener numbers and making

money.  All commercial networks abide by rules outlining the percentage of Australian

music that must be played for each format, along with royalties for songwriters and



All commercial radio networks conduct research to determine what songs will work

for each demographic and sex.  This involves regular phone calls or online contact with people

who are asked to listen to hooks or short pieces of music to determine whether they love, like,

dislike or don’t know particular songs.  Stations will also conduct auditorium tests, possibly once

or twice a year, where a large group will be placed in a conference room and played an array

of songs to gauge their opinions.


Both methods require large budgets, however, what follows are highly confidential,

very important documents that list the most popular songs a radio station could play to

target a particular audience.  In choosing the most appropriate songs and the

frequency of their airplay, advertisers and clients can then be sold into the overall

image and direction of a radio station.  A focused station may not be the overall

number one market leader, but if it is doing its job in the right demographic, it can

bring a lot of money into the business.


While lovers of music radio who spend a large amount of time listening grow tired

of the repetitive nature of playlists, detailed research suggests that successful music

stations need to pick an audience and play what the majority will like.  Even if it’s

over and over again.