Author: Warren Kurtzman

The Podcasting Brand Challenge, Part 2

Tuesdays With Coleman

Last week, I wrote about one of our findings from a podcast research study we recently fielded with a nationally-representative sample of 1,000 18- to 64-year-old American monthly podcast listeners. The headline referred to how Joe Rogan is the biggest brand in podcasting, as The Joe Rogan Experience enjoys a level of Unaided Awareness that is more than twice that of any other podcast.

The flip side of that proclamation is that—at 14% Unaided Awareness—Rogan’s brand isn’t that big. This is because of the nascent state of podcasting and the incredible fragmentation of the medium. With current estimates stating that there are more than 700,000 active podcasts available, building a strong brand in this space continues to be a huge challenge.

Yesterday, we released additional findings from our study that provide a different perspective on branding. Prior to fielding our podcast research in May, we gathered the latest available top 20 most-listened-to podcasts list from Podtrac from March and asked respondents about the top-ranked podcasts on an aided basis. Stunningly, not even one of them was familiar to at least half of monthly podcast listeners, with TED Talks Daily leading the pack at 43%. The only other podcasts that were familiar to at least 30% of the study’s respondents were The Daily, TED Radio Hour and The Ben Shapiro Show. Perhaps even more striking is that some of the podcasts on the top 20 list—Hidden Brain, Up First, The Moth and Invisibilia—are familiar to between only 8% and 12% of monthly podcast users. (Note that The Joe Rogan Experience does not participate in Podtrac’s measurement and therefore we did not test its Aided Awareness.)

We share this data not to criticize podcasters, but instead to make sure they open their eyes for the need to build brands. Without well-known strong brands with which many consumers want to affiliate, few podcasts will attract large, loyal audiences. This is a tremendous task given the previously-mentioned fragmentation of the industry—as making a podcast stand out in an incredibly crowded marketplace is very difficult to do—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary to accomplish.

My colleague John Boyne and I will share ideas on how podcasts can build brands when we deliver our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” presentation this week at Podcast Movement in Orlando. We will talk about how even if content creation is your forte, looking at your podcast from the outside perspective of a good marketer is crucial to building a successful brand. This will include tips about helping listeners find your podcast and things you can do with the content of your podcast that will facilitate brand building.

This latter point is important because brand building does not have to completely depend on marketing activities like advertising and search engine optimization. In fact, as we often cite with our Brand-Content MatrixSM, success is most often derived through the delivery of content that provides a great “in the moment” experience for the listener and reaffirms what they expect from your brand.

Brand Content Matrix

In our presentation, John and I will talk about how memorable brand names, structure, mnemonic devices and benchmarks can help to overcome the many obstacles that stand in the way of building great podcasts.

We hope you can join us at Podcast Movement this week…almost as much as we hope the air conditioning in the Rosen Shingle is up to the task of Orlando in August!

Joe Rogan and the Podcasting Brand Challenge

Tuesdays With Coleman

Yesterday you may have seen news coverage of our podcast research data about the Unaided Awareness levels of the leading podcast brands. Our press release covered the “sexy” part of our findings, specifically that Joe Rogan has the biggest brand in podcasting.

The less sexy, but far more important aspect of our findings pertains to what we’re learning about brand development in the podcasting space. Next week, my colleague John Boyne and I will be sharing more about what we have learned in our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” session at the Podcast Movement conference in Orlando, but in advance of that, we would like to add to the discussion around podcast brand development here.

At Coleman Insights, we are bullish about podcasting. It represents a great opportunity for the many talented content creators in the radio industry to leverage their expertise and expand it to a new growing platform, while also providing an opportunity for fresh, new voices to enter the audio entertainment space.

The ultimate success of the industry, however, will depend on its ability to build brands. By that, we mean brands that are well-known, that are perceived as providing content that is compelling to large numbers of consumers and that are associated with attributes with which consumers want to affiliate.

To date, such brand building has been awfully slow.

While the sexy headline from the podcast research data we recently reached was about Joe Rogan, the bottom line is that only 14% of monthly podcast users are aware of Joe and his show, even though his podcast has been available for a decade. The more significant finding of our podcast research, however, is that Rogan’s relatively low Unaided Awareness level dwarfs that of any other podcast. In fact, none of the four other podcasts that finished among the five best-known in our podcast research—Serial, The Daily, This American Life or My Favorite Murder—achieve Unaided Awareness levels above 6%.

In fact, our research finds that podcast users are about as likely to mention a platform or a category when asked to name podcasts as they are to mention a “big” podcast brand like Serial or The Daily. For example, 5% of podcast users mention NPR when asked to name a podcast; 4% of them say “music” and 3% say “sports.” A parallel here would be to ask people who use streaming television to name shows and have them answer Netflix or Hulu instead of Stranger Things or Orange Is The New Black.

Podcasting Unaided Awareness

By contrast, in most research we conduct with radio listeners, it is not unusual for individual station brands to exceed Unaided Awareness levels of 50% or more. One can certainly argue that most of these radio brands have multi-decade head starts on podcasts when it comes to brand building, but such an argument misses the point. No matter how great a podcast’s content is, its ability to attract an audience will depend on people knowing about it and having—at a minimum—the “big idea” of what the podcast stands for in their minds.

How does a podcast build a brand? We hope you can join John and me at Podcast Movement next week when we share how applying Outside Thinking can make that happen.

Preparing for Daily Radio Ratings

Tuesdays With Coleman

One of my favorite Facebook features is Memories, which allows me to start most days with reminders of life events I shared in years past. A few weeks ago, I woke up to reminders of a great business trip I took across Canada ten years ago.

On that trip, my colleague John Boyne and I delivered breakfast presentations on four consecutive mornings in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto at the invitation of NLogic (then known as BBM Analytics), the software arm of the Canadian ratings service. Its president asked us to share our early learnings about PPM in the United States just before the audience measurement service was rolled out in his country.

I bring this up because a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to see the “next big thing” when it comes to PPM and, as a result, many of the items John and I covered in those breakfast presentations are worth revisiting.

This “next big thing” is coming this month from Media Monitors and its name says it all: Audio Overnights. Yes, it’s true, after making the leap from quarterlies to monthlies to weeklies, the radio business is about to join the world of “dailies.” This means that after constantly reminding our clients in PPM markets that “It’s only a weekly,” we’re now going to have to hold their hands through the ups and downs they will experience as they download the ratings from yesterday onto their computers.

Media Monitors

I am not going to use this week’s blog to rehash Jon Coleman’s landmark “Top Ten Things to Do as a New PD in a PPM Market” article (although, if you want to remind yourself of its teachings, I invite you to review the piece here), which encapsulated much of the material we covered in our presentations to Canadian broadcasters. Instead, I am going to focus on four of the items in Jon’s article that address the changes most stations see in their PPM performances on a short-term basis.

One of Jon’s ten “things” is the need to understand how PPM works and that it—like all research—is prone to statistical wobble. This will be especially true when we start looking at PPM data on a daily basis, as it will be possible—likely, in fact—that there will be occasions where your audience will grow from Wednesday to Thursday and the daily data will tell you the complete opposite. Thus, it is important not to fixate on individual days; what you must do instead is look for longer-term trends in daily data before you start to raise questions about a station’s performance.

Another point is that while programmers—thanks to some extent to tools that have been introduced by Nielsen Audio in recent years—have a better understanding than they used to of panel dynamics, they will need to recognize that panel behavior will have a huge impact on daily data. We usually talk about panel dynamics in terms of respondents entering and leaving a panel, but when we look at daily data, we will experience the impact of panelists dropping in and out of in-tab daily. You can already envision scenarios where a panelist who is a reliable contributor of quarter-hours of listening to a station experiences a life event that prevents him or her from carrying their meter—or, less dramatically, that causes a break from his or her usual pattern of listening—on a given day and the impact that this will have on the daily numbers.

Portable People Meter

Just as we discourage our clients from obsessing over weekly or even monthly PPM data, we feel this is even more important once Media Monitors delivers Audio Overnights to its customers. Avoid downloading the numbers every day and don’t make an event out of it when you do. Instead, look at a bunch of individual days’ data at the same time and watch for patterns by aggregating the data. Outside of when there was a major event that you would expect to drive a big spike or decline in listening, don’t lose the forest for the trees by hyper-focusing on data for an individual day.

Lastly, evoking one of our favorite philosophies about research, avoid confusing correlation with causation. The former is when your ratings go up or down at the same time as you or a competitor made a change and you incorrectly assume that the numbers reflect the impact of that change. It is only through other research that gives you more insight into the hows and whys of listeners’ behavior that you can connect the two with confidence.

I am not going to pass judgment on the introduction of Audio Overnights; they’re coming and we will be prepared to help our clients interpret the data. With that said, I am confident that programmers who follow the tenets of Outside Thinking and understand how consumers make the decisions about what to listen to when will be the ones who will not obsess over daily data and use the tool correctly as a guide that will help them raise the right questions about their station…and not as an answer for why their stations perform as they do.

Winning Through Analytics and Intuition

Tuesdays With Coleman

This is a very difficult blog for me to write. You see, I’m a huge English soccer fan who spends far too many weekend mornings in a pub watching matches with my fellow members of North Carolina Spurs, the official local supporters club of my favorite team, Tottenham Hotspur. To say that I have become a rabid fan since I began closely following the English Premier League more than a decade ago is a bit of an understatement; my wife and I even made sure to attend a match in London before they tore down my team’s ancestral home—White Hart Lane—to make way for its beautiful, new state-of-the-art stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur

Me with my wife Sharon at White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur’s former stadium

And now I am going to write about a glowing New York Times article about Liverpool. I hate Liverpool—I believe it’s codified in English law that if you’re a supporter of one of the Premier League’s “Big Six” teams you have to hate the other five—but the piece supports a concept that is incredibly aligned with our experience of working with radio stations at Coleman Insights.

So why is this a challenging blog for me? This past Saturday, Spurs lost a heartbreaking 2-0 match to Liverpool in the final of the Champions League. For the uninitiated, the Champions League is an annual competition between the top clubs across Europe and is the closest thing the continent has—short of the World Cup—to America’s Super Bowl. It was amazing that my Spurs advanced as far as the Champions League final, but to get so close and just miss out on being crowned as the champions of Europe was also bitterly disappointing.

Even if you have no interest in soccer (or football, as everyone outside of America calls it), I encourage you to read “How Data (and Some Breathtaking Soccer) Brought Liverpool to the Cusp of Glory,” which ran in the Times about ten days before this past Saturday’s final. It talks about how Liverpool’s plan to rebuild after several less-than-successful seasons was not only based on luring away manager Jürgen Klopp from the German club Borussia Dortmund, but also on the hiring of a director of research named Ian Graham and using the data-based insights Graham produced for making decisions about the direction and strategy of the club.

Graham is but one of numerous examples of how analytics is revolutionizing sports. Sports executives, managers and coaches are increasingly making decisions—about what players to recruit, about where to position those players on the field, court or ice, about what strategies to employ, etc.—based on incredible reams of data that advances in technology have made readily accessible. It’s why Major League Baseball games feature more player shifts in the field than fans of the games have ever seen before and why three-point shots have become a much bigger factor in NBA games in recent years, even though they have been a part of the game since 1979.

The parallels to radio programming here are striking. Jürgen Klopp is the program director who is succeeding by blending together the science he is getting from his researcher Ian Graham and the art that comes from his instincts and years of experience coaching soccer. One of my favorite lines in the Times piece describes how “the tactics he chooses end up being a mix of the data-driven and the intuitive.” As a researcher, I can really relate to Ian Graham, who “wants the club he works for to win, but he also wants his judgments to be validated.” Very few things give me greater satisfaction that seeing one of our client stations enjoy great success because of things their management team learned from the data and insights we provided to them.

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool FC

Liverpool FC manager Jürgen Klopp has embraced analytics in his coaching strategy, which helped lead to a championship

If a sports franchise can use insights derived from data to make consequential decisions on things like which players to attract and shots to take, radio stations should use the same advantages for decisions ranging from which air talent to attract to types of music to play and features to run. In fact, most successful radio stations do exactly that. The programmers that lead them possess great instincts and creativity; they put them to work within strategic frameworks that are supported by research.

May 15th marked my 24th anniversary with Coleman Insights; as I embark on my 25th year with the company, my belief that the best programmers know how to blend art and science is as strong as ever. Are you using high-quality data and research-based insights to make decisions about your strategy? If you are not, I strongly encourage you to do so if you want to remain relevant in a world that is increasingly reliant on data and analytics.

Even if all was right in the world and my Spurs—who also use analytics, but weren’t the Times article’s subject—defeated hated Liverpool, the fact that Liverpool has experienced a significant turnaround in its on-field performance since Ian Graham was added to its payroll is evidence of the value of high-quality research. With another soccer season over, now all I must worry about is that my fellow Spurs supporters don’t gave me too much grief about writing something positive about Liverpool.

Bruno Mars is the Great Unifier

Tuesdays With Coleman

This is the final blog in a four-part series from Coleman Insights, featuring findings from its Contemporary Music SuperStudy.

The study tested the most consumed songs of 2018 as measured by Nielsen BDSradio with 1,000 people aged 12-54 across the United States and Canada. This includes radio airplay, streaming and sales data.

A webinar featuring a deep dive into the results will be held on Tuesday, April 30th. Details to register for that webinar are below.

Can’t we all just get along?

In this week’s findings from our Contemporary Music SuperStudy, we take a look at the intersection between contemporary music tastes and politics. For example, is there a connection between how we feel about President Donald Trump and the contemporary music we like the best?

Generally speaking, yes.


When it comes to contemporary music, no sounds demonstrate more dramatic political leans than Country and Hip Hop/R&B.

While Country makes up 21% of the test list, it comprises nearly half—46%—of the Top 100 songs among Trump supporters. As much as Trump supporters love Country, Trump detractors stay away. Country makes up only 2% of the Top 100 songs among Trump detractors.

The opposite is true for Hip Hop/R&B. Only 3% of the Top 100 songs with Trump supporters are Hip Hip/R&B, even though Hip Hop/R&B makes up 33% of the test list. Among Trump detractors, however, Hip Hop/R&B makes up 31% of the Top 100.

In our previous blogs we showed how Pop music over-performs across age, gender and geography. It does among Trump supporters and detractors as well, making up 43% of the Top 100 with Trump detractors and 30% of the Top 100 with Trump supporters, both far higher than the 19% presence of Pop in the test list.


Despite the aforementioned differences in music tastes between supporters and detractors of President Trump, there is one song that is #1 with both camps:

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.

We can now confirm what wedding DJs have known all along. This is the dance floor non-partisan no-brainer.


Not surprisingly, based on its crossover appeal, Pop songs take up seven of the top ten spots in the Contemporary Music SuperStudy.

Perhaps an indication of the weaker Pop music cycle in 2018, only two of the top ten songs were actually released in 2018— “Africa” by Weezer (a cover of Toto’s 1982 hit), and “The Middle” by Zedd featuring Maren Morris.

The bottom song in the Contemporary Music SuperStudy? To satisfy your curiosity, it’s 2017’s “Gucci Gang” by Lil Pump.

Lil Pump Gucci Gang

Discover more findings from Coleman Insights’ Contemporary Music SuperStudy by visiting our three previous Tuesdays With Coleman blogs:

The Current State of Contemporary Music

There’s a Reason They Call it Pop Music and

What Shapes Our Music Tastes

Finally, join us for the Contemporary Music SuperStudy Deep Dive webinar Tuesday, April 30 from 2p-3p EDT (11a-12n PDT), when we’ll take a close look at all our findings and answer questions.



What Shapes Our Music Tastes

Tuesdays With Coleman

Coleman Insights is releasing findings from its Contemporary Music SuperStudy in a four-part blog series, followed by a free webinar on April 30th in which the findings will be covered in greater depth. Details to register for that webinar are below.

In the two previous installments of Tuesdays With Coleman, we shared two primary findings from our Contemporary Music SuperStudy:

1)            Hip Hop/R&B was the most consumed genre of 2018 and is the music style that invokes the most passion. On the other hand, Hip Hop/R&B is significantly polarizing.

2)            Of the six genres of music represented in our study—Hip Hop/R&B, Pop, Country, Alternative/Rock, Electronic/Dance and Latin—Pop is the one sound that is highly popular with fans of every other genre.

This week, we’ll dig into demographics and reveal how age, gender and geography impacts music tastes. In addition, you’ll see the difference between daily streaming listeners and daily radio listeners—a finding that will illustrate why the radio airplay and streaming charts look different from one another.


As we illustrated in our previous blog, Pop is the “glue” of contemporary music. Pop over-performs with the younger and older listeners in our study. Although Pop makes up only 19% of the titles we tested, it represents 42% of the Top 100 songs among 12- to 34-year-olds and 37% of the Top 100 with consumers between the ages of 35 and 54.

The appetites for Country lean significantly older; in fact, only one Country song—“Meant To Be” by Bebe Rexha (featuring Florida Georgia Line), a song that clearly straddles the Pop line—finishes among the Top 100 titles with 12- to 34-year-olds. In the 35-54 demographic, however, Country is very strong, making up 37% of the Top 100 songs, much higher than the 21% presence of Country titles in the study.

Conversely, Hip Hop/R&B is much stronger with younger listeners than with older listeners. These titles represent 33% of the test list and slightly over-perform with 12- to 34-year-olds, making up 35% of their Top 100 songs. Among 35- to 54-year-olds, however, Hip Hop/R&B’s Top 100 presence stands at only 7%.

Neither Dance/Electronic or Alternative/Rock demonstrates significant age skews with similar presences among the Top 100 songs with younger and older listeners. Latin titles are not significantly present among the Top 100 songs with either age group.


The most significant difference in contemporary genre appeal between genders is with Country. While Country represents 21% of the test list, it represents only 8% of the Top 100 with men. But Country actually slightly over-performs with women, representing 22% of their Top 100.

Hip Hop/R&B underperforms with both genders, while Dance/Electronic significantly over-performs with men and Alternative/Rock looks solid with men and women.

Which genre do men and women love equally? You guessed it…Pop. In fact, Pop’s 41% and 42% presence in the Top 100s of men and women, respectively, is more than twice the 19% presence of Pop titles in our study.


Hip Hop/R&B shows the most passion with those who live in urban areas, and least passion with those who live in rural areas. Meanwhile, the appeal of Country is dramatically rural. Country represents 21% of the test list, but 36% of the Top 100 titles with rural residents. Dance/Electronic over-performs with urban and suburbanites. Two genres over-perform with residents of all three geographic areas—Alternative/Rock and Pop.


Programmers often ask us, “Why are streaming charts so different from radio airplay charts?” The answer is simple: Consumers who use streaming frequently are more likely to be big Hip Hop/R&B fans, while the appetite for Country music is much stronger among daily radio listeners than it is with those who use audio streaming every day.

This helps explain why there’s so much Hip Hop/R&B and so little Country on the streaming chart.

Despite this finding, it is noteworthy that Pop is the only contemporary music genre that substantially over-performs with daily streamers and daily radio users. In comparison to the 19% presence of Pop titles in the study, they make up 43% of the Top 100 songs with daily streaming users and 40% of the Top 100 songs with daily radio listeners.


Next Tuesday, we’ll reveal the Top 10 songs in our Contemporary Music SuperStudy. And of course, we’ll also tell you which song brings up the rear.

We’ll also demonstrate for you the huge contemporary music taste differences we observe between those who have positive opinions of Donald Trump versus those with negative impressions of the President. Don’t fret, however, as there is hope in our finding that the same song is number one with Trump supporters and detractors. Check out our blog next week to learn what “the great unifier” is!

Register now for our Contemporary Music SuperStudy Deep Dive webinar, Tuesday, April 30 from 2p-3p EDT when we’ll provide an extended version of our Worldwide Radio Summit presentation and further insights into the current state of contemporary music.

There’s a Reason They Call it Pop Music

Tuesdays With Coleman

Coleman Insights is releasing findings from its Contemporary Music SuperStudy in a four-part blog series, followed by a free webinar on April 30th in which the findings will be covered in greater depth. Details to register for that webinar are below.

In part one of our four-part blog series covering the findings of our Contemporary Music SuperStudy, we shared that Hip Hop/R&B was the most consumed genre of 2018, and was the genre that invoked the most passion. But we also learned that high negatives tend to drive down overall evaluation numbers for Hip Hop/R&B, which is why Pop is the overall evaluation leader.

Each of the six genres represented in the study—Hip Hop/R&B, Country, Pop, Dance/Electronic, Alternative/Rock and Latin (based on heavy new music consumption)—have a certain number of fans. To be considered a genre “fan” in this study, respondents had to rate a verbal descriptor of the genre with a “5” on a one-to-five scale.

Contemporary Music SuperStudy

This week, we’ll look at some of the test results with each genre’s fans. It’s unsurprising, for example, that Hip Hop/R&B performs very well in the test with Hip Hop/R&B fans. But how did songs in the other genres test with Hip Hop/R&B fans? If I like songs in one genre, am I more or less likely to like songs in another? This gives us a measure of compatibility. Let’s start with Hip Hop/R&B.


While Hip Hop/R&B songs make up 33% of all songs tested, 63% of songs in the Top 100 average for R&B/Hip Hop Fans are Hip Hop/R&B songs. This is a significant over-performance compared to the entire list.

Hip Hop/R&B

We can also see that Pop is the only other over-performing genre with Hip Hop/R&B fans. They are fairly format-centric—only eight percent of songs in the Top 100 of Hip Hop/R&B fans come from genres outside of Hip Hop/R&B and Pop. Country is the big outlier, representing 21% of the overall list and only one percent of the Top 100 of Hip Hop/R&B fans.


Just as Country songs significantly underperform with Hip Hop/R&B fans, Hip Hop/R&B is the big underperformer with Country fans. Though Hip Hop/R&B makes up 33% of the test list, it represents only four percent of the Country fans’ Top 100. Dance/Electronic, Alternative/Rock and Latin all underperform compared to the total list, just as they did for Hip Hop/R&B fans.

And just it is for Hip Hop/R&B fans, Pop is the one other genre that over-performs for Country fans.

Country music fans


While the fans of other genres show varying degrees of interest in different types of music, there is one popular genre that fans of every contemporary style of music can agree on—Pop.

Alternative/Rock titles overperform in our study among Dance/Electronic fans, but Pop is the big over-performer.

Dance/Electronic fans

Much as Alternative/Rock titles overperform with Dance/Electronic fans, we observe “cross-compatibility” below, as Dance/Electronic titles are overrepresented among the Top 100 titles with Alternative/Rock fans. Nonetheless, Pop is a far bigger over-performer among Alternative/Rock fans.

Alternative/Rock fans

We see the same pattern emerge among Latin music fans, with Pop as the dominant over-performing genre.

Latin music fans

Finally, we see the expected over-performance of Pop with Pop fans. Note, however, the significant presences of Hip Hop/R&B, Country, Dance/Electronic and Alternative/Rock titles among the Top 100 of Pop fans. Not only does Pop perform well among the fans of other genres, its fans also express high interest in other genres of contemporary music.

Pop music fans


Next Tuesday, we’ll take another look at our findings from the Contemporary Music SuperStudy, when you’ll learn how age, gender and geography shape contemporary music listening habits.

Register now for our Contemporary Music SuperStudy Deep Dive webinar, Tuesday, April 30 from 2p-3p EDT when we’ll provide an extended version of our Worldwide Radio Summit presentation and further insights into the current state of contemporary music.

The Current State of Contemporary Music

Tuesdays With Coleman

Coleman Insights is releasing findings from its Contemporary Music SuperStudy in a four-part blog series, followed by a free webinar on April 30th in which the findings will be covered in greater depth. Details to register for that webinar are below.

There’s no shortage of song data for today’s radio program directors.

Radio airplay data, Shazam data, streaming counts and sales figures can often tell different stories, leading to confusion. Which data should you rely on more for programming decisions? When, for example, the streaming chart is so different from the radio airplay chart, how can you truly be sure what’s going on with consumer tastes?

Some programmers are fortunate enough to have access to music research customized for their stations. High quality library tests, such as our FACT360 Strategic Music Tests, are usually conducted with high degrees of focus in terms of the audience measured and the songs that are tested. The age range is usually narrow, between ten and 20 years. One gender and/or one ethnic group is often focused on depending on the station’s strategy. A certain percentage of the station’s P1s are usually included. And, generally one format’s music is focused on – the one of the station doing the music test.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to take a much broader look at the appetite for contemporary music?

Just how strong or weak is Pop music in the current music cycle? What do Country fans think of Hip Hop/R&B? As mentioned earlier, why is the streaming chart so different from the radio airplay chart?

These are just some of the many questions we’ve been asking about contemporary music, and this is what led us to create the Contemporary Music SuperStudy.

Contemporary Music SuperStudy

The song list was comprised of the most consumed songs of 2018 as measured by Nielsen Music – BDSradio. This includes radio airplay, streaming and sales data.

We then focused on the six major genres with heavy new music consumption, Hip Hop/R&B, Country, Pop, Dance/Electronic, Alternative/Rock and Latin. We made sure the 25 most consumed songs from each genre were represented in the list. Finally, we eliminated any song that was more than five years old. (As it happens, the only song more than five years old on the 2018 most consumed list was “Bohemian Rhapsody,” obviously the result of the smash hit movie of the same name.)

We tested the songs with 1,000 people ages 12-54 across the United States and Canada.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll share some of our findings with you in our Tuesdays With Coleman blogs. First, let’s examine the landscape of the most consumed music of 2018.


We know that Hip Hop/R&B has permeated the music cycle over the past couple of years, and this genre was the most consumed of 2018, representing 33% of the songs in the study. This was followed by Country (21%,) Pop (19%,) Dance/Electronic (10%,) Alternative/Rock (9%) and Latin (9%).

Most consumed contemporary music of 2018


While Pop only represents 19% of the test list, it represents 33% of the Top 100 Like a Lot scores (those who rated a song 5 on a 1-5 scale.) Hip Hop/R&B and Alternative/Rock also over-perform compared to the overall test list with passion scores, while Country, Dance/Electronic and Latin underperform.

Contemporary Music Like a Lot


While Hip Hop/R&B has the highest percentage of songs with Like a Lot scores in the Top 100, it is not the genre with the most songs in the Top 100 with overall evaluation average. That crown goes to Pop, which features a dominant 42% of songs in the Top 100 with evaluation average, more than double the percentage of Hip Hop/R&B. So, why does Hip Hop/R&B lead Pop with Like a Lot scores, but Pop dominates with average?

Hip Hop/R&B can be a polarizing genre. When you add in the negatives, the average comes down significantly. This explains why deciding which Hip Hop/R&B songs to play on Pop formats can be a tricky proposition. A programmer has to determine whether strong passion as well as factors like streaming data outweigh the negatives, which can be a high percentage of Dislike A Lot scores.

Contemporary Music Evaluation Scores


Next Tuesday, we’ll take another look at our findings from the Contemporary Music SuperStudy, including digging into the tastes of the fans of each genre.

Which other genres do Hip Hop/R&B fans like? Which song was one of the top Country testers overall but near the bottom with Country fans? How do tastes differ between casual listeners and the fans of each format?

Register now for our Contemporary Music SuperStudy Deep Dive webinar, Tuesday, April 30 from 2p-3p EDT when we’ll provide further insights into the current state of contemporary music.

Adapting to Audience Research Disruption

Tuesdays With Coleman

If you’re a regular Tuesdays With Coleman reader, you likely consume large amounts of information like me. One of my favorite aspects of reading is encountering material that really hits home by reminding me of something I’m dealing with in my personal or professional life.

That was certainly the case two weeks ago when Politico ran a piece entitled “Pew: Phone Polling in Crisis Again,” exploring the ramifications of the record low number of Americans willing to participate in telephone polls. This was followed last week by an excellent blog post called “Everything’s Being Disrupted—Even Audience Research” by my friend and one of the industry’s leading programming consultants, Fred Jacobs.

I won’t regurgitate the two things I read; if you’re interested in this topic in depth, I encourage you to follow the links to both provided above.

Today’s gadget-obsessed consumers pose new challenges for audience research

As you might imagine, I read both pieces thinking that someone was standing in my shoes for the last few years, as they described many of the factors that have resulted in dramatic changes in the business I oversee. Coleman Insights makes its money by advising clients on how to build strong brands and develop great content based on the consumer research we conduct on our clients’ behalf. Quite simply, if we can’t get consumers to share with us their opinions and perceptions, we don’t have a business.

That’s why we have radically changed the way we do most of the research we complete for our clients. All the music research we do—our FACT360SM Strategic Music Tests and the new music research conducted by our Integr8 Research subsidiary—is collected online from samples created through landline, mobile phone and online recruitment. Most of our Plan Developer strategic studies are based on ratios of in-depth telephone to online interviews that are appropriate for the goals of each project.

I am quite proud of what our team has accomplished in response to the disruptive forces reshaping market research, believing that we have been appropriately ahead of the curve without overreaching by using approaches or methodologies that are untested. When I read in the Politico piece referenced above that an organization as highly regarded as Pew is beginning to blend online and telephone interviewing, my pride in our organization grows further, as we began that process more than five years ago. I’ll also add that we’re not standing still; as I wrote in a blog last August, ten of us traveled to Canada to participate in a two-day summit devoted to data quality with our primary fielding partner and we are still working on initiatives that came out of that trip.

Great Data Quality Summit

The Coleman Insights and Integr8 Research teams with our fielding partners at the Data Quality Summit in Canada

Whether you are a Coleman Insights client or not, I leave you with three suggestions about how to be an educated research customer:

  1. Work with research partners who are “methodologically agnostic.” The days of conducting all strategic research through landline telephone interviews and music tests solely in auditoriums are over, as there is no one right way to conduct research. Different segments of the population respond to opportunities to participate in research differently; the best research companies understand this and utilize multiple techniques to engage consumers. If a research company you’re considering hiring makes claims like “no one uses telephone interviews anymore” or “online music research can’t be trusted,” end the conversation.


  1. Simply moving online is far from a panacea. While there is little doubt that the ability to survey consumers online has revolutionized market research, it has also resulted in the creation of some truly awful research. That’s because the range of quality in online research varies widely. Make sure that the research providers you hire to conduct research online utilize samples from only high quality sources.


  1. Understand that research must be tailored for each collection platform. Take a moment and think about how you may word something in an email or a social media post and how you would do so differently if you were telling someone the same thing in-person or on the phone. That difference also needs to be reflected in how things are asked in telephone interviews versus online questionnaires. When you hire a research company that utilizes multiple methodologies, make sure they have the expertise to design surveys for each platform they may use for collecting data.

If you grew up in the New York area in the 60s and 70s, you’ll recall an advertising campaign for Syms, a men’s clothing store chain, that featured the legendary tagline, “An educated consumer is our best customer.” Those seven words are just as true today when applied to the fast-changing world of market research.

Sports Radio and the Margaritaville Problem

Tuesdays With Coleman

Ask any experienced music radio programmer and he or she will be able to tell you about numerous situations where “something big” was happening in their format that just didn’t feel right to them for their stations. Classic Hits programmers will try to deal with the fact that 20,000 people are going to see Jimmy Buffett in concert in their market when “Margaritaville” is the only song of his in their library. Similarly, a song will “blow up” in local market streaming data but finish at the bottom of the ranker in the station’s weekly new music research.

Jimmy Buffett concert photo

Jimmy Buffett’s concert success doesn’t often translate to radio airplay beyond “Margaritaville.”

It is in these situations that programmers earn their salaries and bonuses; the talented ones know—often thanks to strategic research they have conducted—how to respond in situations like these.

These scenarios are not, however, limited to music radio. Sports radio programmers deal with them as well and currently the changing landscape of sports consumption poses major challenges. I would argue that the rise of eSports, mixed martial arts (MMA) and legalized sports gambling represent the sports equivalents of the Margaritaville problem.

With eSports competitions selling-out arenas, MMA generating massive pay-per-view revenues and more states legalizing sports gambling, there is little question that all three of these are important parts of the sports landscape that are growing, especially with the younger consumers that advertisers covet. Does that mean if you program a sports radio station you should devote airtime to these topics?

eSports event

An estimated 380 million people worldwide will watch eSports this year. How should sports radio cover it?

The answer, of course, is “it depends.”

It depends on the interest level in these topics relative to the interest levels for “the big four” professional sports plus college football and basketball. It depends on how compatible the appetites for this content are with the appetites that exist for the other sports that are at the core of your station’s strategy. It depends on whether you’re the only local sports radio station in your market or if you have a direct competitor. It depends on how much you know about the specific content sports fans in your market look for your station to cover.

This last point is critical and is the one on which less-experienced programmers often get tripped up. Just because something is popular does not mean that it is right for your station. Jimmy Buffett may have a lot of fans who love going to his shows, but that doesn’t mean that they want to consume his music when they listen to your station. We repeatedly see in research that what people want from radio stations and what they want when they’re not listening to the radio do not necessarily align perfectly.

Coleman Insights clients and frequent “Tuesday With Coleman” readers are well-acquainted with the concept of “Outside Thinking,” the ability to look at your radio station from an outside, real-world perspective. Sports programmers who are Outside Thinkers don’t just react to the rise of eSports, MMA and sports gambling and add shows that focus on them to their stations’ line-ups and push their hosts to cover this content. They consider whether such content has strategic value for their stations and program accordingly.

Fortunately, we at Coleman Insights have numerous sports radio clients who think this way and have had us research the role that content focused on eSports, MMA and sports gambling should have on their stations. A summary of our findings will be a major element of the Programming Strategies for a Changing World presentation I will be delivering on Thursday morning at Barrett Sports Media’s BSM Summit in Los Angeles.

If you’re fortunate enough to be attending the conference, I hope to see you at my 9:45 AM session. I promise you’ll walk away with insights that will help prevent you from ending up on a beach somewhere searching for that lost shaker of salt.