Charlie Cook On Air: Playing Currents
There is just not enough Adele on the radio.
I actually stole that line from David Letterman who used it 20 years ago to say, “There just is not enough Phil Collins on the radio.”
I put 800 miles on my car this weekend, traveling a lot during early morning hours when there was only “fix-it” and colon cancer programming on the AM band. I like to listen to AM when I am driving. It makes me think, but I didn’t want to think about colon cancer. So I popped in a Phil Collins CD and thought about Letterman’s line and how it is true today with Adele and on Country radio.
There have been many phases of an artist completely taking over the radio. Elvis, The Beatles, The Supremes, Phil Collins, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and Madonna come to mind in Pop radio.
The same is true in Country Radio. Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith all play a lot every day. I chose to look at WUSN on Friday, March 3.
They played Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift 19 times each. Rascal Flatts played 16 times. Lady A played 15 times. Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban each played 14 times. But in Kenny’s case that was 10 different titles.
I am not complaining about any of the acts or WUSN. What they are doing is correct and I agree with playing all those acts (and a few more) double digit times every day.
The pop chart and country chart are different in many ways. But in Adele’s case, she has three songs in the Top 10. (Using a custom report that does not arbitrarily consider a title recurrent instead of current.)
The marketing plan for Country records and the relationship between Country radio and records does not allow this to happen but it could and probably should.
Adele has had the No. 1 selling CD since 1954. Or so it seems.
Programmers know there are three Zac Brown Band songs we could be playing in current rotation right now. The last three songs are all safe, certainly safer than some of the songs Country Radio is playing in a current category.
“Reality” has been a No. 1 song for Kenny Chesney but Country Radio could be/should be still playing “You and Tequila” as a Power current. This is in addition to having “Reality” in a current category.
Taylor has three songs that fit this situation.
I looked at WTMX in Chicago and found that Adele played 15 times on Friday. Remember, she has only three titles.
If you look at MScore you see that there are a number of titles that stations continue to play that are not as strong as past titles, like the ones that I mentioned above. I am not talking about newer songs that are still gaining an audience. I am talking about songs that have never caught on and have been on the chart for 20 plus weeks.
And before you say, ‘The current/recurrent vs. gold balance is dramatically different on a Country station (WUSN) than on a Hot AC Station (WTMX),’ check it out:
WUSN: Current/Recurrent – 69.5%, Gold – 30.5%
WTMX: Current/Recurrent – 71.6%, Gold – 28.4%
And playing a song in a Power Recurrent category that plays twice a day versus as many as nine times per day (as the most played now get from WUSN), is not the same.
I am not saying we throw out the charts. Heck, the publication that prints this article has a chart and most of you know that I have a friend in the business, but maybe driving sales on the Country chart is not being served with the system now in place.
Unless we’re all happy with how things are going today.
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