Friday, December 28, 2012

Country Music 2012 Year in Review Part 2: How 2012’s Music Compares to Years Past

2012’s music has something big going against it: 2011.

2011 of course was a great year for country. We saw new high water marks for a number of our metrics including overall Like A Lot and Total Positive scores.  So any comparison to 2011 has to take that in to account.

Having said that, 2012 was a good year for country although, in aggregate, A&O&B’s year-end scores were a bit softer than 2011’s and we saw more metrics off than up. 

Let’s look at two: Total Positive and Like A Lot.

Total Positive scores increased in 2012 making this the fourth consecutive year of higher scores. The growth was fueled by improved scores in the bottom 2/3 that more than off-set a slight decline in scores among the top 1/3 (ending two years of growing scores there).  As a result there was some ‘score compression’ as the averages for the top 1/3 and bottom 2/3 are closer this year than last, and the second most compressed since 2000.

Meanwhile, while our Like A Lot final average scores for the year’s top 1/3 are a bit lower than last year, they were not far from the average of the past 5 years. And, again 2011 was an extremely strong year.

However taking all the songs into consideration, the decline in Like A Lot scores is greater. And, unlike Total Positives, the scores from the bottom 2/3 of the list were much weaker. In fact, the overall Like A Lot average for the bottom 2/3 of our testers was the softest we’d seen in a number of years. 

That our Total Positive scores continue to grow is of course great news. More disappointing though is that the overall Like A Lot score for 2012 – arguably analogous to ‘must hear music’ and by extension ‘must hear radio’ – was soft compared not just to last year, but to A&O&B’s 10-year average.

Were there great powers to play this year? Absolutely – the top 1/3 was certainly strong.  However the Like A Lot difference between the top 1/3 and bottom 2/3 was widest we’ve seen since 2008, making not playing the ‘right’ powers potentially more costly.

It seems somewhat silly to say, “Make sure you’re playing the songs listeners want to hear.”  But tracking spins as your primary source of music information won’t provide the same data as asking your listeners how they feel about the music you’re playing.

Each year we see significant differences in the 'most spun' vs. the 'best testers.'

If you’re not already doing so, an important programming resolution for 2013 would be regularly taking your listeners’ pulse on the music you play.

A&O&B offers client stations online music testing, free, as part of our full service commitment. We’ll be glad to answer your questions about how it works.

Click here for Country Music 2012 Year in Review Pt. 1 Is Luke Bryan Worth of All Those Awards and Kudos?

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