In case you missed it, just before the holidays, Arbitron released its annual Radio Today report. The 2012 edition covers the period through the end of 2011. Among the things that jumped out at me was Alternative’s national share has dropped below 2.0.
But something’s been happening with the format over the last couple of years, and it accelerated in 2012. Alternative has turned to a new generation of acts and most stations are now playing more currents and recurrents.
In 2012, Alternative had more in common with CHR and Hot AC than it did with Active Rock.
To analyze the changes, I compared annual year-end charts (not peak chart positions) of the most-played songs for Alternative and Active Rock to see how much they had in common. I looked at 4 things to get a clearer picture of how they’ve separated and why:
1. Lists of the Top 50 most-played songs at each format
2. The Top 10 lists for each
3. Which songs and artists were shared each year
4.Gold percentages at each format over the years
Fewer Shared Songs in the Top 50
A comparison of the annual Top 50 lists illustrates the dramatic change. Every year through 2005, the two formats shared at least half of their top 50 songs (peaking at 34 out of 50 in both 2001 and 2002). Every year since then, the formats have shared less than half, with that number dropping rapidly after 2008. The two formats shared just 9 songs out of 50 in both 2011 and 2012.
Fewer Shared Top 10 Songs
The same trend held when zeroing in on the biggest hits (the shared Top 10 songs) with more similar lists in the early years. In fact, in both 2000 and 2003 the two formats had the exact same songs in first and second place, and in 2001 they shared the same #1. They shared as many as six of ten in both 2002 and 2007. Since then, it’s been a different story: no shared songs in 2010, two in 2011 and just one last year.
Big Drop In Shared Artists
Besides the number of shared songs, the other big story is which songs and which artists have been shared over time. As recently as 2007, both the Active Rock and Alternative year-end Top 10 charts included songs from Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and Papa Roach. But since 2009 the only artist the two formats shared in their respective Top 10s has been the Foo Fighters.
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