No Budget for Music Research ... No Worries
April 26, 2016
One of the hardest things to do is to make ends meet when things are tough. Back in the Great Depression, backyard gardens were less expensive than buying produce at the store. Some people used every part of a chicken for food, including the feet and the gizzard. Fast forward to radio and a similar situation exists in various radio situations.
I was once in a situation when callout research was cut from my budget and I had to make the best of it. There is no such thing as late on a song unless it's a cultural phenomenon sweeping the country like the Macarena back in the '90s. I was at a monitored station and on songs moving up the charts but was not comfortable with, I monitored my competitor. Because a friend of mine worked at the company they used for callout, I knew shadowing their playlist on such music product would work. However, I kept the information to myself and did not tell the GM or I never would have gotten my budget back for music research.
So it is easy to empathize with this PD who reached out to me with his research budgeting problem.
PD: Music research has been cut from our budget and we are not a monitored station. I have to track my competitor the old-fashioned way with one of us writing down what is played. If we were at least monitored, I could look at playlists in the format to check on the hot stuff, but we are not. I keep hearing from the GM that his friends are telling him his station is not playing this song or that song. I am grateful to be working, but it is hard to get things done without all the tools. I will appreciate anything you can do to help me.
Coach: Your situation is all too familiar. Let's work on your problem; first I need to know if your competitor does research or is monitored.
PD: They are monitored and I think, but I'm not sure, they do use someone for callout research.
Coach: Then the solution is simple: Make friends with someone outside your market with access to monitored music, have them copy or print out a few days' worth of your competition's music, and have them share with you what they find. It will at least give you a fighting chance to keep up with the competitor. I programmed a station without callout and would immediately start blasting a new song my rival was playing because I knew he was doing callout. It never comes down to who played it first, just who gives it enough audience impact spins to maintain the perception of being the music leader. In fact, one time I took another station's promotion, increased the frequency of the impressions, and added a couple of tweaks to improve on the execution. It's the same with music.
PD: That makes sense, I can do that.
Whenever there is a direct competitor or competitors in the market, find out if they conduct auditorium tests or weekly callout research. The best way to obtain this information requires some James Bond-type maneuvering. Casually find out who on your staff knows people at the other station. If they do, have them make inquiries over a lunch or dinner that you pay for. Sometimes engineers and salespeople make the best spies.
Friends always help friends. If you have any ex-employees from the competitor, use them for the espionage. Finding out is the key -- regardless if the other guy does testing inside or uses an outside company. Just be sure to be clear that auditorium testing is what you need to know.
If your station is not current-based, apply the same theory of a friend outside the market to get you a seven-day glimpse of a competitor's daily music logs. Or if you do not have a direct competitor and just want to stay on top of your format, get a friend to get you a copy of another station's list whose audience is similar to yours with a history of airing only researched music.
One other way of accomplishing the end result is the barter system. There are companies that will do work in exchange for their services.
The Latest For Finding Music Trends
Currently Shazam is one of the new ways many programmers use to stay on top of the music scene. It is just one more tool; it's today's version of phone requests, except the Explorer function allows you to see where songs are being listened to in your city You can narrow it down to the actual municipalities in the area.
If you are not up on how to locally benefit using Shazam, contact the company and ask for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org