Report: Download Data Is Hot Research Tool
July 12, 2007 at 9:08 AM (PT)
The music industry has long blamed illegal file sharing for the slump in music sales. But now, a key part of the industry is trying to harness file sharing to boost its own bottom line, reports THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Earlier this year, PREMIERE RADIO NETWORKS began marketing data on the most popular downloads from illegal file-sharing networks to help radio stations shape their playlists.
The theory is that the songs attracting the most downloads online will also win the most listeners on the radio, helping stations sell more advertising. In turn, the service may even help the record labels, because radio airplay is still the biggest factor influencing record sales. PREMIERE's MEDIABASE unit is working on the venture with the file-sharing research service BIGCHAMPAGNE.
The service has already had an impact. The HUEY song "Pop, Lock and Drop It" was in light rotation in APRIL at EMMIS Top 40/Rhythmic KPWR (POWER 106)/LOS ANGELES, and listeners weren't requesting it much. The station's own research on the best music mix to play indicated the song wasn't catching on with listeners. But data from BIGCHAMPAGNE showed the song was hot on file-sharing networks, including in LOS ANGELES. EMMANUEL "E-MAN" COQUIA, the station's MD, decided to stick with it. Now, three months later, "Pop, Lock and Drop It" is prominent on the station's playlist.
Currently, says EMMIS Pres. RICK CUMMINGS, the downloading information is one more tool to figure out what to play. It's not yet as helpful as "call-out" research, he says. But at some point, the download data are "going to be the primary method of research." It's getting harder and harder to do passive call-out research, CUMMINGS says, because "people don't have time, they have their phone blocked." He notes that it also "takes a while to play 20, 30 hooks," a reference to researchers' practice of playing the catchiest part of a song for survey participants.
Since the business was launched, MEDIABASE has cut deals with stations at sister company CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO, as well as group-wide deals with RADIO ONE and EMMIS. According to BIGCHAMPAGNE Pres. JOE FLEISCHER, the partnership has already surpassed its target of signing up 100 radio stations this year.