People know what they like and how to get it. And a consumer-centric world ensures radio listeners are getting more of what they like than ever. In a recent Buzzfeed articleWho Decides What Gets Played on the Radio? More and More, It’s Listeners” news reporter Reggie Ugwu writes about stations that serve up the popular songs their audiences demand, even if it means bucking record label recommendations.

The author cites a Los Angeles radio station that chose to play fan-picked single “Passionfruit” from Drake’s latest album, More Life – overriding a label request to give priority to  “Free Smoke.” Following a trail of information about which single fans preferred, the station played “Passionfruit” more than 400 times between release and when the Buzzfeed article appeared. Label-sanctioned “Free Smoke” garnered less than 60 plays during the same six-week period, a mere 13% of airtime devoted to the two songs.

The LA station hardly went rogue, Ugwu suggests, citing Nielsen BDS: “Over 25 radio stations around the country were playing “Passionfruit” more than100 times per week as of mid-April, with almost none granting “Free Smoke” comparable exposure.”

A song hotter than Passionfruit? NextRadio uncovers what still smolders.

Wondering how NextRadio listening tracked with the Buzzfeed findings, we reviewed in-app data from March through May. Nationwide, radio stations played “Passionfruit” over 77,000 times – 10 times as often as “Free Smoke.”

Stations also played another single a lot more often than “Free Smoke.” The track “Fake Love” quickly proved to be a fan favorite, according to NextRadio data:

  • “Fake Love” outplayed “Free Smoke” 6 to 1
  • “Fake Love” received 9 times the likes for “Free Smoke” and twice the likes for “Passionfruit”
  • Listeners purchased “Fake Love” over “Passionfruit” 2 to 1
Guessing when an artist or song will go from hot to not can be tricky.

Music fans aren’t shy about taking to social media to root for popular songs and artists. Billboard Music Awards Top Social Artist is one of only two awards chosen by the fans. Pop group BTS took the 2017 honors, ditching Justin Bieber from a title he’s owned for six years – the entire time this category has existed.

For radio, the question about exactly when to pull a popular song has yet to be answered. But with NextRadio app data, programmers can see within days how the audience reacts to new music.

Metrics including actual in-app listens and views give a quick snapshot of early song traction. Layering on in-app social interactions such as buys, likes, dislikes and shares from the local NextRadio app user base, it’s now easier for programmers to understand exactly what’s working for their audiences – and what’s not.

Understanding the larger conversation requires more data points.

Music fans will continue to voice their opinions on many wide-ranging platforms. And that’s good, because people feel like their favorite station knows what they like and makes it easy to get it (for free). The challenge, of course, is learning when opinion becomes trend. To solve, we’ll all benefit from ever-larger data sets about our radio listeners.

Growing listenership on the NextRadio app ensures more data points for your local stations, and more confidence in your everyday business decisions.

To see growth, however, you need to actively promote app listening. Stations nationwide have seen it work: One grew their NextRadio audience by 17% with a single co-branded event. Another shot up 21% with on-air mentions during AM drive. And yet another gained 25% more app listeners via a simple change to the station ID and a live read campaign.

People know what they like. And it seems they like your station. So why wouldn’t they want the chance to listen more often? Tell them about the NextRadio app today.

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