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The Passion Problem

The Passion Problem

It’s your problem too


There’s no doubt that music research can help you avoid playing songs your listeners hate.

The problem with research is it makes you cautious and afraid of playing songs you haven’t tested.

And, almost by definition, it moves you toward the bland, the non-offensive.

There’s something to be said for playing songs listeners LOVE, with a capital L. Call it a passion index.

You can’t drive passion by playing it safe with your music.

There’s a huge difference between trying to keep listeners from tuning out and trying to generate passion from music that will generate word-of-mouth proselytizing that creates mass tune-IN.

I’m not suggesting you suddenly make your music 80% unfamiliar. We know familiarity boosts listening.

I am suggesting you not be afraid to play a great new song because you haven’t tested it yet.

I’m suggesting you start thinking about songs the way we used to think about songs, the way the music streaming services — Spotify, Apple Music — still think about songs: As creating passion for your music.

There’s plenty of evidence that Radio is failing dismally at this, especially with younger listeners.

It’s impossible to lead if you’re afraid.

And, at its heart, music research is making programmers afraid.

That is a problem Radio needs to resolve.

The sooner, the better.