When I worked full time in radio one of the difficulties our station faced was really nailing our music selection. We had strong parameters set for how to choose songs, what we would and wouldn’t play, but, apart from sporadic phone calls or social media comments, it was hard to tell whether we were hitting the mark or not. We were getting good ratings, but without music research we had no way of knowing what we could do better. As well as this, it was hard to tell whether the people who DID call in and say they loved (or hated) a song were represented the majority of our listeners, or not. We looked into participating in some online music testing, but the cost was out of reach for our station, with prices starting at $800 per month.

Musicbuzz was born

I’ve got a coding background, so with a bit of trial and error I built the first version of Musicbuzz, a web app that we could link to in social media, emails, or from our web page. From there, we were able to send them out links to twenty songs at a time each month, and asked people them to rate them. We invited people that were part of the key demographic that we were targeting, and tried to get a decent amount of people within that—I think we started with a survey of about 300 participants. From these regular surveys we were able to identify the kind of songs that our listeners really responded to, and make subtle adjustments in our playlist. And, from that, we found our listeners started responding more positively to the station. More phone calls, increased listenership, and increased revenue.

Over the next 18 months we developed it better, ironed out the bugs, grew our coding team so we had more support, and generally made it easy for our program director (who had no technical background) to use.

Music research allowed us to find out what our potential new listeners didn’t like about our station. There may be songs that are a real turn-off for them that your core audience love. With music research we were empowered to remove a small handful of songs that were holding our station back. We found that some songs that had been hugely popular when they first came out people had got sick of more quickly, and didn’t want to hear again.

Sharing the experience

A good friend of ours, Phil Gray, of www.philgrayconsulting.com, suggested we try offering the service to other stations. We set it up with a low monthly fee to cover costs, and now, three years later, Musicbuzz is used by radio stations across Australia, the US and the UK.

Do you want to do music research?

If you’re interested in finding out more about how Musicbuzz can help your station, check out the website, www.musicbuzz.net