Triple M is not the most repetitive radio station in Australia
The music on Triple M has always bothered me, not because of type of music they play, but because of how repetitive it seems. In the early 2000s I won ten or so CDs for phoning into Triple M — Matchbox 20, Lenny Kravitz, The Living End etc. — and I’m always surprised at how regularly certain tracks from these albums are still played today. In fact, if I hear Are you gonna go my way one more time, I may just vomit.
So you probably knew this already: Australian radio is super repetitive, but I wanted to know how repetitive it is, and if Triple M is the most repetitive station (spoiler: it’s not).
More infomation on how I obtained these results is available, but in summary: I analysed the tracks played on five radio stations for nine days, and this is what I found.
First, I wondered how recent the music played on each station was. Looking at the year each track was released, and taking the median for each station we get:
|Station||Track year (median)|
Triple M’s result surprised me a little here, I honestly thought it would be worse than this. Most of the tracks I hear when I tune in are from the late 80s and early 90s, but they must be playing enough more recent music to counter this. Nova, 2Day FM, and triple j seem to play fairly recent music, and this data is consistent with that.
Most frequently played artist
Here’s where it gets more interesting. The top five artists for each station and the number of times their songs are played are:
|Station||Top artists||Plays||% of total airplay|
|Triple M||Pearl Jam||43||2.15%|
|Red Hot Chili Peppers||39||1.95%|
|Kings of Leon||32||1.60%|
|David Guetta Feat. Skylar Grey||68||2.44%|
|2Day FM||Pharrell Williams||83||2.86%|
|Clean Bandit Feat. Jess Glynne||71||2.44%|
|5 Seconds Of Summer||67||2.31%|
|triple j||Chet Faker||54||1.86%|
|Ball Park Music||31||1.07%|
|Triple R||Various Artists||21||1.01%|
|Myron & E||11||0.05%|
In terms of raw numbers, Triple M is actually less repetitive than triple j, but raw numbers probably aren’t a fair comparison as triple j plays 33% more (detectable) music than Triple M. Totalling the top five artists for each station we get:
|Station||Top 5 artists, no. of plays||Top 5 artists, % of total airplay|
Nova and 2Day FM are both looking pretty bad here: you’ve got a one in ten chance or greater of hearing one of the top five artists. Triple M is not far behind, but does a little better.
Most frequently played track
The top five tracks, and the numbers of plays these tracks get across each station are:
|Triple M||The John Butler Trio||Only One||17|
|Kings Of Leon||Temple||14|
|American Authors||Best Day Of My Life||13|
|Placebo||Loud Like Love||13|
|David Guetta Feat. …||Shot Me Down||68|
|Clean Bandit Feat. …||Rather Be||64|
|5 Seconds Of Summer||She Looks So Perfect||63|
|Tinie Tempah||Tsunami (Jump)||54|
|2Day FM||Clean Bandit Feat. Jess Glynne||Rather Be||70|
|5 Seconds Of Summer||She Looks So Perfect||67|
|David Guetta Feat. Skylar Grey||Shot Me Down||63|
|Cash Cash Feat. Bebe Rexha||Take Me Home||58|
|triple j||Dustin Tebbutt||Bones||26|
|Thundamentals||Something I Said||25|
|Plague Vendor||Black Sap Scriptures||19|
|Triple R||Tiny Ruins||Me At The Museum …||11|
|Pixies||Here Comes Your Man||10|
|Myron & E||Broadway||10|
|Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane||April Fool||6|
One thing’s pretty clear here: 2Day FM and Nova are leaders in repetitive radio. Playing a single track 70 times in just over a week is incredible, as they must be playing some of these tracks 8-9 times a day. I couldn’t believe it at first, so confirmation on the frequency of Calvin Harris is in my notes.
The most repetitive radio station is…
Based on the analysis of the nine days of data collected, I’ll have to give it to Nova, just beating 2Day FM. Both these stations are around a third more repetitive than Triple M, and nearly three times as repetitive as triple j. Keep reading for why Triple M may win this title over the long term.
Other interesting data
Triple M tracks released before 2000
Back to Triple M: what gives here? Lenny Kravitz or The Living End weren’t even in the top ten played artists. In fact, we have to go a lot further down the list to find out what’s going on. Here are the top fifteen tracks Triple M plays which were released before 2000:
|Billy Joel||Easy Money||8||1983|
|The Bloodhound Gang||The Bad Touch||8||1999|
|Nirvana||Smells Like Teen Spirit||7||1991|
|All Torn Down||The Living End||7||1998|
|Third Eye Blind||Semi-Charmed Life||7||1997|
|The Cruel Sea||The Honeymoon Is Over||6||1993|
|The Screaming Jets||Shivers||6||1992|
|Nirvana||On A Plain||6||1993|
|Lenny Kravitz||Are You Gonna Go My Way||6||1993|
And there we have it: this is what irks me about Triple M so much. While they’re not as repetitive as other stations overall, this particular set of tracks combined is played more frequently than the most frequent track on the other stations (yes, even more than Calvin Harris), and most are played at least once a day. All of these tracks — Are You Gonna Vomit My Way included — were once chart-topping hits, but do we really need to hear them every day for the rest of our lives?
Australian artists :(
Australian artists get far less play time than others it would seem. Looking at the top ten artists for each radio station:
|Station||Australian artists in the top ten most played|
|triple j||5/10 (Various Artists not counted as Australian)|
|Triple R||4/10 (Various Artists not counted as Australian)|
While this isn’t the complete picture (a large number of Australian artists may get a small number of plays) it looks pretty sad if you’re an Australian artist.
To test how repetitive Australia radio is, I analysed five radio stations for 9 days (April 2 - April 11, 2014):
During this period, I gathered this data:
I can’t determine exactly why the number of tracks detected is different on every station, but it comes down to:
- Each station plays its own number of tracks versus other content like ads, discussions, news etc.
- I used an audio fingerprinting service which has a large but incomplete library. This may account for the lower number of tracks detected on Triple R, as they’re more likely to play independent, and perhaps, unsigned artists.
- Live music is unlikely to be detected, unless it was released as an album.
- Portions of a song may be played for promo purposes, see my notes on Calvin Harris - Summer below.
Notes: Calvin Harris - Summer
This track was played so often, I had to confirm the data to believe it. Here are the times this track was played on Nova Brisbane for April 4:
- 2014-04-04 00:47 (promo only)
- 2014-04-04 01:51
- 2014-04-04 04:22
- 2014-04-04 08:59
- 2014-04-04 11:31
- 2014-04-04 14:31
- 2014-04-04 19:07
- 2014-04-04 21:39 (promo only)
- 2014-04-04 22:05 (promo only)
- 2014-04-04 22:46
As it turned out, Nova was running on promo on this song where they would play the song for a few seconds when promoting another product. I’ve manually reduced the number of track plays on the top five artists by ten to account for this (Calvin Harris would then become the equal sixteenth most played artist on Nova, but Clean Bandit Feat. Jess Glynne would be in position number five instead, with a net difference of only 10).