How Music Charts

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Obsessed with streaming? Rightfully so, but after almost a year of coverage on Chartmetric, let’s go over some useful US radio facts that may help your artist’s overall distribution @chartmetric #chartmetric #musicbusiness #musicindustry #radio #aqh #streaming

Show Notes

  • Highlights  
    • Obsessed with streaming? Rightfully so, but after almost a year of coverage on Chartmetric, let’s go over some useful US radio facts that may help your artist’s overall distribution strategy.
  • Mission   
    • Good morning, it’s Jason here at Chartmetric with your 3-minute Data Dump where we upload charts, artists and playlists into your brain so you can stay up on the latest in the music data world.
    • Chartmetric’s social media handle is Chartmetric, no “S ”- follow us onTwitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook- we’re always posting useful music tidbits, we’d love to hear from you!
  • Date
    • This is your Data Dump for Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019.
  • Radio in the Streaming Era: US Radio Facts for Streaming Experts
    • Coming up on one year ago, Chartmetric added 300 US radio stations to our 20+ sources of music data.
      • Why? Well, radio is still considered one of the major ways to break an artist into the mainstream here in the States, and to many, it remains a strong advantage of the major labels, who are well-networked in the radio community.
    • You can check our blog article about it in the show notes, but for those who maybe never got a chance to learn about the world before streaming, we thought we’d take the time to review some basic radio facts to help you put it all in context.
      • First, a radio spin does NOT equal a streaming play! Nowadays, we’re so used to looking at total streams on whatever platform, how many plays are coming from what playlist, or how many plays came from a user’s library...but nonetheless, each stream is just a one-to-one relationship with a listener.
      • With radio, one spin can mean thousands of listeners, at the same time, and usually in the same geographic area! A one to many relationship is how terrestrial radio differentiates itself from streaming, and it requires a certain appreciation to realize that just because radio spin counts aren’t as big in quantity as streams in a given time period, they are much more geographically attributable, they’re time-stamped, and they play to many more people.
    • On the many more people part, one term to be aware of is “AQH”, which stands for average quarter-hour persons, or the amount of unique listeners in a 15-minute period listening for at least 5 minutes.
      • Have you ever been stuck in highway traffic and flipped through radio stations, only to hear commercials? Well, I bet it was around one quarter hour before or after the hour when that happened.
        • Why? The reason is the way Nielsen Audio records AQH, because by playing commercials on the :15 and :45 minute marks, they maximize the period of time they play music (and thus, get the highest AQH possible). This raises their profile for advertisers wanting to buy time and more exposure on their station.
        • The AM Drive during morning rush hour is primo ad time, so while 5-10AM is highly lucrative for radio stations, it’s probably not when your new song is going to get played. You probably have a better chance in the PMD (guess what that is), Evening or Overnight dayparts.
        • Location-wise, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago stations tend to have the highest AQH ratings, which makes sense given they’re the top three populated cities in the country.
      • Another term you may have heard is “Radio Format”, and this loosely refers to the type of genres a station plays, and it’s really more of a way for advertisers to recognize a station’s listener demographics.
        • Surely you’ve heard “Top 40”, and that also goes by Contemporary Hit Radio, or “CHR”, and it’s what you’d expect, the latest and greatest from mostly major labels.
      • Country is another format, and of course it plays best in the South, but also a sizeable presence in other places like Chicago.
      • Urban plays better in the Midwest/South/East and is made up of hip-hop and rap, while Rhythmic plays bigger in the West; a mix of Top 40 and Urban where R&B, dance, hip-hop, and pop all intermingle.
      • Other formats like “Triple A”, Alternative and Hot Adult Contemporary exist as well, we invite you to check out the blog article to learn more. Many thanks to our data supplier RadioWave and Seth Keller for their expertise.
  • Outro
    • That’s it for your Daily Data Dump for Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. This is Jason from Chartmetric.
    • Free accounts are available at 
    • And article links and show notes are at:
    • Happy Wednesday, and we’ll see you on Friday!

What is How Music Charts?

Welcome to How Music Charts, where we bring you interviews and analysis from music industry professionals bridging data and creativity in the music business every day. Feel free to email us (, say hi on our socials (@chartmetric), and dive deeper into music and data on our blog ( Free accounts are available at!