FM Radio More Repetitive Than Ever

…Fearing Listeners Will Tune Out Unfamiliar Tunes


Music services such as Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, and Sirius XM Radio have developed quite a following with listeners in the last several years.  One of the greatest draws for using such services is the ability to choose from a large variety of songs as well as having numerous opportunities available to “discover” new music.

You would think to keep up with this novelty FM radio would try to emulate these advantages in their music offerings.  However, FM radio has gone in the exact opposite direction of its more digital counterparts.  Why?  A recent article published by The Wall Street Journal explains that traditional broadcasters have been able to increase listenership by narrowing the variety of songs that they play.  According to the article, this strategy comes from growing research suggesting what radio programmers have long suspected – “listeners tend to stay tuned when they hear a familiar song, and tune out when they hear music they don’t recognize.”

The Wall Street Journal cites statistics from Mediabase for “most played songs,” showing that last year’s (2013) top songs were played almost TWICE as much on the radio compared to a decade prior (2003).  Between emerging data and the increasingly long list of music options to choose from, FM radio stations are clinging onto this strategy tightly, even extending the amount of time artists must wait to introduce new songs.

FM Radio is still the most widely used American listening system, so even though its policies may be negatively affecting musical artists, it certainly is distinguishing itself from digital alternatives, securing a unique and specific (yet repetitive) spot in listeners’ ears.

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