Saturday, June 26, 2010

"ARM" Yourself With A Windsock

(he looks so innocent!) Would you play an untested song by this man?

Some country programmers who waited too long to add Jaron and The Long Road to Love's I Pray For You due to their policy of playing no untested music, may have missed the boat on the highly positive song because by the time they got test results back, the tune had already started to build very high negatives.

As a result, many are now placing such potentially high demand titles in callout research as soon as they begin playing them. The question is: can you trust scores on titles where fewer than 85% of the sample is familiar with a song? The answer, of course, is NO.

However, there is a very simple formula that I learned three decades ago from researcher Bob Lowry of Phoenix that can highlight and often very reliably predict potential success of unfamiliar music. Lowry, who used it when he was with Frank Magid & Associates, termed it "Acceptance Ratio Margin."

Sum all positive scores (favorite, like a lot, like some). Add all negative scores (burn, dislike, etc). Disregard neutral and unfamiliar responses. Divide the total positives by the total negatives.

This yields a ratio you can use to estimate what the odds are that once the unfamiliars start to become familiar with a title whether they'll like or NOT. Track this ratio over time, each week you test a song. The rate of conversion from unfamiliar/neutral to positive or negative can also be predictive of which direction a new song is going -- UP to heavy rotations or OFF the playlist completely.

This ratio can be especially helpful in evaluating national research, such as Callout America and Rate The Music scores printed in national trades.

This data isn't designed to substitute for local research and local market gut knowledge. But, it can be an excellent indication of which songs are working for average country fans across the continent and which aren't.

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