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Is Radio the Last One to Add New Songs?

Integr8 Research says it’s all in the usage patterns

Radio and music junkies have long claimed that by the time radio stations start airing a song, it’s been playing on Spotify for weeks, and that radio is falling behind the curve. Can that be true?

Integr8 Research, radio listenership, radio-Spotify comparison

Music research company Integr8 Research decided to get to the bottom of this story. To do so, they compared Spotify’s numbers to data from the Nielsen-BDS powered Billboard Radio Songs chart during the same period to see if radio really is late to the party, or if something else is going on. The data set they used was the top 200 most-streamed songs on Spotify from January through August 2019.

But first, some background is in order, in the form of an earlier post from Integr8, Is Spotify Replacing Record Stores or Radio Stations? Spotify users, claims Inegr8, are comprised largely of an artist’s fan base, who are anxious to check out their latest project. There are also music fans who are anxious to see what all the excitement is about. Integr8 says that radio listeners, on the other hand, are a more diverse group, and it takes longer for them to discover and warm up to new songs.

The difference, they claim, is in usage patterns between the two media. Integr8’s research suggested that new songs are released at about the same time on radio and Spotify. It further claims that the average lifespan of a top 10 song on Spotify is under nine weeks, while the average lifespan of a top 10 song on the radio is over 16 weeks.

Integr8 Research, radio listenership, radio-Spotify comparison
Comparison of song cycles between Spotify and radio.

That being the case, says Integr8, if one simply compares what’s #1 on Spotify to what’s in radio’s power rotations, radio is always going to appear to be on a slower timetable.

What can we learn from all of this? According to Integr8, the critics are wrong about radio being the last to release new songs. The key, they say, lies in understanding the difference in consumption patterns. That’s not to say there aren’t lessons for radio in this research. Integr8 believes that music directors will need to carefully weigh both the impact on listenership and on their brand when the listeners have mixed reactions to songs that skyrocket on Spotify.

And what does that mean?

The answers will be forthcoming in a Integr8 webinar that will air Nov. 13 at 2:00 EST/11:00 PST entitled “What Radio Can Learn From Spotify.”

The key topics include:

  • What are the different consumption patterns for new music on Spotify — and how radio can use those patterns to spot real hits;
  • When should radio start — and stop — playing songs;
  • Why Spotify is replacing record stores more than radio stations — and why it matters for how radio programmers interpret Spotify data;
  • How new releases have a major impact on music consumption that’s often ignored by radio.

The webinar can be registered for here.