Friday, July 25, 2014

Country in the First Half of 2014: How This Year’s Music Compares to Last Year's at the Half Way Mark

Earlier this month Inside Radio reported that “no format had more momentum than country” heading into the second half of 2014 and that the format had already matched its PPM high of last July during the “summer of country.”

Also in that article partner Becky Brenner referenced A&O&B’s “balance” philosophy when she stated that “a balanced menu from Music Row is seen as essential for growth.”

So how is this year’s music shaping up so far compared to the first six months of last year?

To explore this, A&O&B looked at our music testing data from January 1 to June 30th of this year and compared it to our data for the same time last year. We focused on two metrics: “Total Positive” and “Like A Lot” and compared songs completing their life as currents in the first six months of each year. This included all songs played in the first half of each year, whether or not they went on to be played as recurrents.

First, the Total Positive and Like A Lot scores for the first halves of 2013 and 2014 were nearly identical.

Total Positive Average (higher is better)
Like A Lot Average (lower is better)
All Songs First Half 2013
All Songs First Half 2014

Digging a bit deeper and looking only at the Top 20 Testers, the scores again were nearly identical.

Total Positive Average (higher is better)
Like A Lot Average (lower is better)
Top 20 Songs First Half 2013
Top 20 Songs First Half 2014

Finally, we compared the Top 10 Testers for the first six months of each year.  Here, with smallest sample – just 20 titles – 2014 scores were slightly softer than 2013.

Total Positive Average (higher is better)
Like A Lot Average (lower is better)
Top 10 Songs First Half 2013
Top 10 Songs First Half 2014

Looking back over the past several years (as a company we've been tracking and trending music data since the late 90s), year-end scores have softened slightly since the peak of 2011. 

And, while this year’s top-10-to-date are scoring slightly below those from the first half of last year (we are talking small changes not dramatic drops among a tight group of titles) overall the format remains in the strong music cycle that began in 2009.    

Still, tenths of a shares matter and identifying and giving maximum play to the songs that mean the most to your listeners is a no brainer.

For many stations the budgeting process for next year is getting underway making now an appropriate time to explore ways to make music testing part of your budget for 2015 (disclosure: A&O&B stations have access to free, online current and gold online music testing using the company’s software).

And while you’re at it, why not have a discussion about the many ways you can interact with listeners and commit to a plan of action.  

Keep the momentum going.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Dublin Concerts May Be In Doubt, But Not Garth's Superstar Status in Ireland

Garth Brooks has sold some 400,000 tickets to five scheduled shows in Dublin, but the concerts may not go on thanks to wrangling between concert organizers, the city, and residents who live near the Croke Park Stadium venue.

Negotiations to save the shows continue and things are expected to play out in the next 24-48 hours.

Meanwhile though what is NOT in doubt is that Garth is a mega-star in Ireland and that pre-show excitement is off the charts. 

In fact, it was hard not to run into “something Garth” in Dublin last month.  Here are a few examples (with apologies for the window reflections):

Garth CD posters were in storefront windows.

Stores were selling "Garth is coming to town/Garth is in town" T-shirts more than 6 weeks prior to the scheduled shows.

I saw this pub ticket promotion in Cahir, some 2 hours away from Dublin.

And then there are those roughly 400,000 tickets.

Of course there’s excitement when any of our current superstars come to town to play, but the anticipation for Garth in Dublin was at a different level.

The fate of the shows will play out this week and hopefully there will be a satisfactory resolution. 

But if the shows don’t come off, it certainly won’t be because of a lack of fans, sales, excitement, hype, publicity, and good old opportunism.

And oh yes, Garth's rock star status.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

For Country Radio Holidays Are An Opportunity to Connect

A few years back A&O&B asked Arbitron what we could learn about July 4th listening.

The company's Jenny Tsao was kind enough to dig into this for us and shared some information that is worth revisiting. 

From the data we learned that:

1 – Compared to a full week, 12+ listenership for the 30 PPM markets in the sample was notably lower on the 4th and adjacent days.

2 – The drops were primarily due to lower levels of out-of-home listening (dark blue bars) while in-home listening (light blue) remained comparatively flat. 

3 – Isolating Country however and 25-54, the format's AQH ratings (pink bars) fluctuated far less across the week than for the market overall (green bars)

This year, Jenny and fellow Nielsen researcher Tony Hereau updated the data for us and again, while total market listening fell to weekend levels on the 4th and the days after, the top country stations maintained more of their audience.

Thinking about this week you might want to consider the following:

1 – Knowing that country’s audience is less likely to suffer a big holiday drop, how will you be staffed (especially if you’re in the southeast which looks like it will experience a tropical storm during this time)?

2 – How will you promote your station’s out-of-home consumption?

3 – How will you take advantage of “simultaneous homogeneity” – events that bring us together – that the 4th provides and use it to demonstrate that you and your listeners are “on the same page?” 

Whether you consider it good programming or not, you can see what Pandora has planned here

And, for Independence Day inspiration, here are nine screen shots of both businesses and stations I grabbed two fourth of July's ago.

Imaging, content, social, promotions - the further your station goes beyond playing “God Bless the USA” and a couple of dozen patriotic-themed titles, the greater your opportunity to delight, connect, bond, and reaffirm that you’re the station that best reflects your listeners' values and lifestyle. 

Happy 4th!