True or False: Radio Stations Mostly Play Songs Music Companies Pay Them to Play


Last week we revealed one of the new findings in our twelfth and latest NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study. Almost half the respondents in our latest sample of 3,049 persons 14-54 from all PPM markets across the country agree with the statement: “Radio stations don’t play a big variety of songs so they can save money on licensing fees.” It’s not true, of course, but the belief is widespread – especially among younger listeners.

Keep in mind that listeners spend no time at all thinking about this type of issue. So there’s no conflict for them with the potentially overlapping notion that radio stations mostly play the songs that music companies pay them to play. And it turns out that a majority of our sample agreed with that statement.

Of course we worry most about what those few folks who are the most likely to show up in Nielsen samples think – they’re the only ones whose opinions really matter. We hoped that their opinions would be kind to radio. We know from the previous eleven Ratings Prospects Studies that these ratings-likely respondents tend to be heavier radio users and tend to be supportive of stations – but they disappointed us again.

Among both the group that modeled through as being PPM-likely and the group that modeled through as being Diary-likely, over two-thirds believed our false proposition about modern-day payola. And unlike the misperception that small playlists are driven by saving money on licensing fees that was strongest among younger demos, this perception resonates across the demos.

We’re getting ready to share even more starting August 1 in our upcoming webinar Play & Win the Ratings Game. We’ve got fresh numbers on Social Media usage, including numbers on whether or not users trust Social Media platforms with their personal data. We’ve got updated information on Smart Speakers: who’s got them, uses they’re serving in homes – and the potent question of whether or not that includes listening to FM. And we’ve got the latest data on the marketing channels most likely to impact those within Nielsen samples.

Details and registration is at We hope to see you there!


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  1. One thing I know for sure in this country. Too many songs or tunes are played that are not world class. You can debate me all you want. And the people behind these artists in many cases get their singer/group to cover real hits by real artists. That is a sign.


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