Alan Burns: Listeners Want To Know 'What's Popular'
Plus Exclusive Commentary From Alan Burns For All Access
July 23, 2010 at 4:31 AM (PT)
Data released TODAY (7/23) from ALAN BURNS AND ASSOCIATES’ largest-ever study of female radio listeners suggests that "finding out what music is popular" and entertaining personalities have overtaken "finding my favorite song" as the key attributes of Top 40 radio.
"Top 40 listeners can and do easily find their favorite song immediately on their iPOD or other digital device," said CEO ALAN BURNS, "but Top 40s unique advantage is providing fun and helping listeners plug into shared experiences and tastes. And a station that does those things better than others, wins. Make no mistake -- playing the top songs is as important as ever for Top 40, but doing that alone is not going to be enough to succeed in the new world."
Playing the top songs is as important as ever for Top 40, but doing that alone is not going to be enough to succeed in the new world.
How does this fit within what seems to be the PPM mandate to shut up? BURNS says, "respondents in this study distinguish between entertaining talk and 'useless DJ chatter' and that distinction drives much of the behavior observed via PPM."
Next up, in the series of webinars from ALAN BURNS AND ASSOCIATES, is an AC-focused presentation next THURSDAY, JULY 29th, at 2p ET. The webinars are free. Just register here.
For more information, contact ALAN BURNS at (251) 980-7070.
Exclusive Comments From Alan Burns
ALL ACCESS asked ALAN BURNS to comment in detail on various parts of these findings. Here are his thoughts:
* Key attributes for Top 40 now are "finding out what music is popular" and entertaining personalities (ie, fun). In naming what they liked most about radio, Top 40 listeners named finding out what music is popular far more often (43%) than "I can always find my favorite song" (16%).
BURNS: We need to pay close attention to this. You can now find your favorite song faster on your iPOD, but radio plugs you into a community and gives the music context when it’s done right.
* Top 40’s five most-liked artists are, in order: LADY GAGA, BLACK-EYED PEAS, BEYONCE, RIHANNA and USHER.
BURNS: LADY GAGA is not only #1 with Top 40 listeners, but with women in general. And we saw very little burn on her as an artist. With Mainstream Top 40 fans TAYLOR SWIFT makes the top five; for Rhythmic fans it’s LUDACRIS.
* KESHA is Top 40’s hottest new artist, almost reaching the top tier of most-liked artists this early in her career.
BURNS: Other new artists getting a lot of play at the time of the study, and thus tested here, included TREY SONGZ, YOUNG MONEY and JUSTIN BIEBER. BIEBER is polarizing -- the passion among his fans is off the charts, but he won the most "artist whose music I’m tired of" votes.
* Hip-Hop has slid to 4th in popularity for Top 40 listeners; however, it still drives Rhythmic Top 40 listening.
BURNS: Hip-Hop was actually rated higher by 25-34s than 15-24s. Those 25-34 Top 40 listeners are the generation that grew up with Hip-Hop. The two biggest differentiators between Rhythmic and Mainstream fans are Hip-Hop and AC/Top 40 Pop like 'Hey, Soul Sister.' This may not be rocket science after all!
* Top 40 P1s say they are more likely to tune out "A Song I Don’t Like," (71%) than "a song I’m tired of" (48%).
BURNS: These respondents said they’d rather hear a new song than a song they’re tired of -- voting very understandably for novelty over boredom. But don’t lose track of the fact that it’s about the songs they like most -- regardless of whether they’re new or recurrents.
* Top needs in a morning show for Top 40 listeners are "play a lot of music" (66%) and "make me laugh" (58%).
BURNS: One of my favorite listener comments of all time came from a focus group that had just told me that in a morning show they wanted: a lot of music, a lot of fun, the important information, and not a lot of talk. When I rhetorically asked them how they thought a morning show could possibly do all of that, one woman immediately said 'It’s easy! Just make a joke about what’s going on, and then play my favorite song.' Out of the mouths of babes..."
* The difference between "entertaining talk" and "useless talk" is key for holding listeners’ interest and getting repeat listening.
BURNS: PPM measurement punishes "useless" talk -- that is, anything that isn’t immediately entertaining or informative -- swiftly and severely.
* One-quarter of Top 40’s female listenership says there’s no station that seems to understand her. The number is highest (28%) among teens.
BURNS: So that glass is three-quarters full. Still, there are a lot of Top 40 women out there looking for a radio station that really "gets" them -- and millions more who would like to be understood better. Top 40 tends to stereotype women, and the stereotype is based on men’s perceptions, not women’s real priorities.
* Song or artist presells into commercial breaks help bring listeners back for more tune-ins.
BURNS: According to these women, music presells tend to remind them to come back again more than to stay through the stopset. And of course presells are a good branding tool as well.
* More Top 40 fans are interested in winning tickets to an artist concert in their hometown than are interested in winning a trip to see that artist somewhere else.
BURNS: Many people don’t like to travel, or are afraid of flying; plus a flyaway requires scheduling time off. So that kicks flyaways down a bit in overall popularity. If you’re doing a flyaway, make the "trip" part of it sound appealing.
* The listeners most inclined to join a Top 40 station’s FACEBOOK page tend to be its heaviest listeners.
BURNS: Take care of your FACEBOOK fans -- they matter!