Does Sirius and “Piped in” Airline Music Lead to More Music “Discovery” than Pandora?

Readers of this blog know that there is a raging debate over the rates that artists are paid by Streaming and Webcasting services.    But underpinning that debate is the notion that certain webcasting services and streaming services help people discover new music and are thus giving something of value back to the artist.  It occurred to me that I have a big enough song catalogue that we could actually look at the question try to measure if these services lead people to new music or just sort of spin what is most popular and familiar.

So in my own catalogue there are 5 songs that were genuine radio hits on multiple radio formats.  At least here in the US.   As individual tracks they also tend to be in my top ten sellers. They were also released commercially as singles.    They are:


Teen Angst

Get Off This

Take The Skinheads Bowling

Eurotrash Girl

(Pictures of Matchstick Men is a Status Quo cover and I don’t get granular statements for that track).

There are also another dozen tracks that were minor hits, regional hits,  or garnered significant but fleeting radio play.  I deal with these and “On-Demand” services in a subsequent posts.

So the question I attempted to answer is  “What percentage of spins on these service are NOT the top 5 hits?”   This is not necessarily the only way to look at the question.  This is perhaps the bluntest of measurements.  However it is interesting to actually look at the data rather than just make unverified claims.   (For balance I’ve also asked a friendly yet sometimes adversarial fellow blogger to look at my raw data and ask the question differently.)

Here are the somewhat surprising results.

Percentage of spins that are NOT my top 5 hits.  Webcasters and Broadcasters only.   On Demand Streaming services like Spotify or Rdio are not considered.  

Sirius XM 46.13% broadcast
Airline Radio 46.02% broadcast
College Radio 32.15% broadcast
Live 365 31.36% webcast/broadcast
Pandora 18.18% webcast
Rhapsody radio 16.02% webcast
Terrestrial UK 8.90% broadcast/webcast?
Terrestrial Radio US 3.47% broadcast

Here are the big surprises.   Sirius XM although relatively few spins, tends to play more stuff out in the “long tail” of my catalogue than every other source.  And Airlines?  how did that happen?

Pandora which loudly boasts of it’s music genome project ends up in the middle of the pack.  Further 4 out of 5 spins on Pandora are for “Low” my biggest hit.  The only other service that spins Low as much is US terrestrial (85% of all spins).   However there is one caveat with Pandora.  The other 20% of the time the spins are more evenly distributed throughout my catalogue.  At least relatively speaking.   I mean the number two played track is an obscure outtake  from Kerosene Hat “Sunday Train.”  I assume that is the music genome at work.  So 20% of the time Pandora acts as claimed as a music discovery service.  At least with my catalogue.  Second caveat.  This is just within my catalogue.  It’s entirely possible that in aggregate Pandora as claims plays more indie music and artists out in “the tail” of popularity.

Percentage of Spins that are the track  “Low.”  Webcaster and Broadcasters. 

Terrestrial Radio US 85.26% broadcast
Pandora 79.82% webcast
Rhapsody Radio 63.75% webcast
Terrestrial Radio UK 39.56% broadcast/webcast?
Live 365 28.97% webcast/broadcast
Airline Radio 25.09% broadcast
College Radio 24.99% broadcast
Sirius XM 24.96% broadcast

About 20% of the time Pandora seems to really play some obscure tracks. Kudos!

Pandora plays

One thought on “Does Sirius and “Piped in” Airline Music Lead to More Music “Discovery” than Pandora?

  1. Your hed is plural: Do Sirius and piped-in airline music lead to more music “discovery” than Pandora? (Also, I Don’t Know Why You’re Using the Upstyle for Headlines. Newspapers Don’t.)

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