The Listeners Say I’ve Got a Music Repetition Problem | radioinfo

The Listeners Say I’ve Got a Music Repetition Problem

Sunday 18 October, 2020

Content from BPR

Another question we ask in BPR Strategic studies concerns the perception of repetition……which station plays music that is too repetitive – they play the same songs too often?

Now, let’s get one thing straight…. repetition isn’t all bad. A station has to play the hits to be successful and irrespective of what format you’re in there are only ever a finite number of TRUE hits. In a competitive Classic Rock battle do you want to be the station that NEVER plays Stairway to Heaven? 

Getting back to the Strategic study…. the results reveal that your station’s music repetition score is higher than ideal. As the program director, your first thought is that the rotations are too tight on some categories.

Now that may be the case……. however, given that BPR provides consultancy services to over 200 stations across Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Ireland, South East Asia and Australasia, our insights reveal there can be a variety of factors at play that can impact listeners’ perceptions of music repetition  ……and the cause may be more than the rotations alone.

These include:

  1. The radio market.

Cities where there are a number of stations with competing formats will often have higher repetition perception scores than markets where there are no direct competitors. When there are a number of stations with a large degree of music crossover (especially multiple CHR stations), repetition scores for all stations in each competitor set will generally be higher.

If this sounds like the market in which you are competing, you need to manage the music product extremely carefully and on a daily basis but until a competitor changes format a lot of it is outside your control.

  1. Music scheduling.

Sometimes a listener will think that a station has high repetition because the songs SOUND the same……too many slow tempo songs scheduled back to back, poor artist separation, too many songs from the same genre scheduled in a row, too may songs by the same artist in the universe…..all these can create perceptions of repetition even for stations that have a broad and largely unique universe. Listeners are very habitual in their listening patterns……. the same song coming up too often at exactly the same time will create perceptions of repetition. In the 1960’s, a music scheduling rule came into play that one should never schedule two female artists back to back….the reason was that there were a lot of “all girl” groups at the time (the Ronettes, The Shangri Las etc) that all sounded the same and the songs had similar production values. In the mid-90s, the rule was applied again by successful CHR stations given the proliferation of “boy bands” in the charts.

All of this is within your power to prevent. Ensure you have strict music scheduling rules in place and that they are adhered to.

  1. Research.

Listeners rarely complain about hearing their FAVOURITE songs over and over…….. but they do complain about hearing songs they don’t like. Check all the research results for your music universe to ensure that every song has strong positive scores and low negative scores.

Again, this is within your sphere of influence. What’s that you say….”we don’t have any music research?” Then find the budget and do some…otherwise you are flying blind.

  1. Imaging.

One thing that I hate to hear on air is a music demonstrator followed by a song the hook of which was in the demonstrator……. if the hook of The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” is featured in the demonstrator NEVER EVER play the entire song after it. Furthermore, ensure that you either have a reasonable number of demonstrators or refresh them frequently. For example, if you only have four three-song demonstrators and you schedule them hourly, the listeners will hear the same group of the three hooks six times a day. So not only will they hear the actual song in its entirety many times a week, they’ll the hook 42 times in the same week!

Yes, this is another element within your control.


When evaluating music repetition scores in your strategic study always look at both what the market overall is thinking as well as what your P1’s and the P1’s of your format competitors think.

If the score is high certainly look at your song rotations but also investigate further for other possible causal issues.

Use monitoring services to check just how much crossover your station has with your competitors. Conduct a weekly audit of song plays. Check logs every day to ensure that all scheduling rules are being applied ….. genre and tempo balance, artist separation, song/artist placement. Go through the research…… make sure the audience loves each and every song you are playing. Ensure your music demonstrators and other imaging aren’t contributing to the perception of repetition.


David Kidd







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Anthony The Koala
18 October 2020 - 6:20pm
I have made my points before on the hackneyed "hits and memories", "classic hits" and "golden oldies" formats saturating the Sydney market. there is a likelihood that the same songs will be repeated across all stations. This site reported that an aircheck of WS-fm and Smooth had a 31% overlap in its playlist.

MMM's DAB+ channels may have solved the problem by subdividing its rock format from 90s, hard, soft, classic, country to its 'main' 104.9 station. At the same time, the problem is that you may be so niched that there is not enough audience.

The author of this article pointed to audience measurement where the broadcaster asks the listener if she/he liked/dislike the song. I could also presume that the broadcaster would ask the listener what they would like to hear for a particular genre.

With today's mobile phone IP streaming technology, it should not be a problem to incorporate an immediate measure of the person's like/dislike or would like to hear song.

Furthermore broadcasters who dream about a comprehensive audience measurement technology should also ask the manufacturers of terrestrial broadcast radio AM/FM/DAB+/DRM+ to incorporate an IP network connection and/or a micro-sd card record of the listener's habits. There are no manufacturers who include a facility to network or store listener's habits. "Frontier Silicon" a leading manufacturer of FM/DAB/DAB+ ICs don't have such a facility. Of course for privacy reasons, the data should be anonymised.

The advantages of immediate access to listener's data means the programmer can make instant decisions.

In addition, the author made a remark about playing a succession of slow and fast tracks, and tracks from a particular genre 'sounding alike'. The meta information in a sound format such as uncompressed WAV or dare I say it lossy compression formats such as MP3 holds so much info about duration, artist, title and 'other'. But that 'other' may well be limited. To avoid the problem of temp and 'sound' alike, another database table containing additional information should be used in conjunction with the meta-information held in the particular file format. I would also add the tune's key signature. There is software on the market that can detect the tune's key signature and tempo.

Is that a hard job? If a radio station had a playlist of 1500 songs, the database would need to be regularly updated as new music/artists become part of the playlist.

A computer program with adjustment the content director's intervention selects the playlist. Another field in the database should include "Australian" status in case the minimum Australian quota is enforced rather than self-regulating. One FM station is allegedly playing only 7% Australian content, see Vincent, Chrissie,,either%20in%20Australia%20or%20overseas.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield
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