December 5, 2017

When Should Big Hits Become Recurrents?

In our last post, we examined why traditional burn scores can burn you in new music research. Specifically, they can give you false positives on newer songs that listeners simply don’t like yet, while giving you false negatives on highly popular, but aging, hit songs.  Our dissatisfaction with the ability of traditional burn scores to help our clients decide when it’s time to move a big hit from currents to recurrents inspired us to develop Hitcycle®, our proprietary measure that gives clear guidance on what should and should not still be in power rotation.

What if your station simply isn’t in a position to conduct custom new music research in your market?

We’ve examined our own research to understand how listeners’ attitudes about songs change over time. We also examined the Nielsen Audio powered Billboard on-demand audio charts to see what songs listeners are playing most when they’re in control of their music.

Based on the big-picture trends revealed in our analysis, here are four tips to guide you on moving songs out of power rotation at the right point in their life cycles:

  • For stations in the CHR universe, move songs out of power rotation when your audience has heard them for 24 weeks. While every song in every market is different, a typical song in the CHR universe (including Adult CHR, Rhythmic CHR and Urban) remains a top 10 hit for 20 to 28 weeks from the time listeners started hearing it That’s the point where listeners not only lose interest in songs in callout. That’s also when songs typically fall out of the top 10 most-played songs on Spotify, YouTube, and other on-demand audio services. While you won’t nail it for every song, moving songs from current to recurrent after 24 weeks of consistent exposure in every daypart in your market is the point where you’re most likely making the right move.


  • For Country stations, move songs out of Power rotation after 36 weeks. Country listeners typically take longer than CHR listeners to warm up to new songs and they typically want to hear the biggest hits for a longer time, too. It typically takes 28- to 44 weeks for country listeners to want to hear a big hit song less often, as indicated not only by listeners’ reactions in callout, but also their on-demand streaming behavior. For most songs, 36 weeks is your best bet for moving the song into a recurrent category. If you want to learn why Country isn’t CHR, review our blog series and webinar on the subject.


  • Examine on-demand audio usage to confirm when their users are playing a song less often. There are limitations to what streaming data can tell you (we cover that topic here). However, streaming data can provide insight into when listeners’ appetite for a song is slowing down because it tells you how many times they actually played it. If you see a song falling on the on-demand audio charts, it may be time for your station to stop playing it as often, too. If you’re going to examine streaming data for Country, learn why recurrents are different for Country than for CHR here. For some country megahits, streaming data could lead you astray.
  • Do NOT use Shazam data to move a song to recurrent. Shazam is a great tool for spotting new songs that are catching listeners’ ears. Keep in mind the reason people Shazam songs, however—to learn the artist and title of a song. Once listeners know the name of a song and who sings it, they have no reason to Shazam it. When Shazams for a song decline, it simply indicates that listeners now know who sings it, not that they’re tired of hearing it.  You can learn how to use Shazam to help predict hits in our webinar here.


Naturally, you should consider these four suggestions within the context of your station’s strategy and position in your market. If you’re the Hot AC that distinguishes itself from the CHR by always playing a song your adult listeners know and love, your listeners may still have a strong appetite for a song that the CHR P1 listeners already consider yesterday’s news. In your case, holding on to well-known and well-liked currents longer makes sense.

Conversely, if you’re in a CHR battle and your strategy is to be newer and more cutting edge than your competitor, you should be quicker to move older hits into recurrent categories.

Finally, a key indicator of when it is time to move a song to a lower rotation is when you have a stronger song ready to replace it.

Learn the five reasons Integr8 New Music Research can give you confidence you’re picking the right new music.


2 thoughts on “When Should Big Hits Become Recurrents?”

  1. Matt Bailey Post Author

    We haven’t yet performed this detailed level of analysis for Active Rock, but we do plan to dive into the life-cycle of songs in the Rock and Alternative universe for future studies. Stay tuned!

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