September 28, 2016

Why Country Creates a Different Bond than CHR

This is the final post in a three part series examining the differences between Country and CHR.

In our previous post, we examined streaming and new music research data to show how Recurrents play a bigger role in Country than in CHR. Now let’s examine what’s at the heart of this difference—the nature of the emotional bonds listeners form with their favorite music.

Country listeners relate to the story, not the moment. 

Why is it that that only 5% of the Top 10 most streamed CHR songs are 45+ weeks old but 18% of the Top 10 most streamed Country songs are 45+ old? Why do Country fans continue to love certain songs for so long after they’re new when CHR fans have long ago moved on?

The difference lies in why listeners connect with songs in the first place.

Listeners tune in to CHR to connect with the music of the moment. Think about CHR’s biggest songs of the summer of the past few years, from “California Gurls” and “Call Me Maybe” to “Fancy” and “See You Again,” these songs weren’t simply unescapable—these songs defined their respective summers. Once summer is over and September settles in, however, these song are no longer relevant to listeners and they tank in Callout.


In contrast, Country’s biggest hits aren’t “of the moment.” They tell stories and speak to emotions that are deeply personal. Listeners who fall in love with specific Country songs relate to those stories and emotions for an entire season of their lives. Listeners might not want to hear these songs as frequently as they did when they were new, but the emotional connection to these songs remains relevant for years, not months.

That country fans connect emotionally to the stories in the songs is certainly not news. What’s lost, however, is that this connection with the music makes recurrents an essential element of Country radio. You can make a CHR sound “hotter” by dropping the recurrents to make way for more current spins. In Country, the power recurrents are a key element, even for stations emphasizing new country. Successful new country flanking attacks work because those stations had the guts to drop the Gold superstars of country’s previous wave. (Sorry, Brad Paisley.) They also bring CHR energy and youthfulness into the station’s personalities, imaging and promotions.

For stations with custom new music research, that’s why these huge Country hits will remain among your best-testing titles instead of dropping as most CHR songs eventually do. That’s also why, even for those older titles that some listeners are getting tired of hearing, burn scores can be half what you’d expect for the most-burned CHR titles.

Bottom Line: Recurrents play a larger role in Country than they do at CHR because the biggest Country hits connect with timeless stories and emotions, not because they’re of the moment.

Want to learn even more about how country listeners consume new music? Watch our webinar Why Country Isn’t CHR. We’ll show you what Country fans’ streaming behavior can teach you about picking new music for your station, how to use sales data to separate the hits from the stuffs and why radio remains vital to exposing Country fans to new music.

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