Why radio stations play the same songs over and over again

If you’ve ever wondered why radio stations seem to play the same set of songs over and over, continue reading.

As with almost every other media platform, it comes down to the almighty advertising dollar. Of course, attracting as many ears to the station as possible is the key to making that money.

It seems nonsensical to play the same set of songs on a loop. People don’t just want to hear the latest cut from Ariana Grande or Khalid; many of us like Rae Morris and Kopecky too. Yet, they aren’t put on blast alongside the former two. Why?

Let’s lift the curtain, so to speak, to get a clearer picture of how the radio broadcasting heads decide who gets airplay and who doesn’t.

❆ If you were to enter into the music business, you’d soon realize that radio stations are, well, into the business of radio, rather than music. In other words, their main objective is, for most, making money from advertising, instead of giving you variety in music.

Note: I’m not referring to every single radio station that exists.

❆ Secondly, playing the most popular songs as regularly as they can boosts listenership. You may be wondering whether playing uber-popular songs on a loop actually increases listening. As counterintuitive as it seems, the answer is yes! Radio stations want to ensure that regardless of when you tune in, you’re most likely going to hear a song you know and like, and even if they play an unfamiliar record, it’ll be surrounded by tunes that you do know. Familiarity keeps listeners coming back. Advertisers will naturally flock to these stations playing mainstream music that attract a broad audience.

❆ One more thing…and this might require you to read my previous post about how marketing budgets are allocated to artists by their labels. The thing is, some labels have the spending muscle to strong arm, er…reportedly lobby radio stations and their program directors, resulting in top artists getting the lion’s share of radio plays; so their songs become popular by default, and the cycle continues. This, of course, is supposedly illegal but here’s an article explaining how top 40 radio works, which sheds a little light on how some labels might be beating the system using this ‘lobbying’ method.

To end, when you hear that a track was “added to rotation,” it literally means that it’s been placed in the list of songs that currently air in heavy rotation on that radio station. Yes, they play songs in rotation (loop), which consists of about 40 songs daily, depending on the audience’s age group and the music genre played by the station.



‘Mylène’s Blog’ gives you an answer to something you’ve been curious about. ⑇ Are you a songwriter or have friends who are? I co-founded Tunedly, a selective music publishing and recording studio. ⑇ The Homepage of my website is the best place to learn about me. LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Juliet Emmanuel
    21st May 2018 6:04 pm

    OH wow. No wonder trending hits go on air almost like forever before we get a new set. Though it’s true it hooks listeners and I think that is a good strategy for their business.

  • smith Oliver
    21st May 2018 6:04 pm

    Exactly. The money making is the most important thing there not necessarily what you are after. And this is why most times they allow you to call in and request your own songs. All these are to make people stay tuned and always come back.

  • Hmmm. This is a nice observation. Well, I’ve always wondered that maybe these artists pay regularly for their songs to be aired. Ahh your blog is amazing!


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