A little mystery about local radio stations and royalties I've always wanted to know about

I don’t know why this suddenly came to my mind today

When I was in my early teens, I used to listen to a local radio station in the South called Power FM. Even then, I noticed just how often certain songs were overplayed, despite them not having much chart success (example: ‘Roll to Me’ by Del Amitri and Amy Grant’s cover of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’) I remember, literally years after these songs came out, they were still being played on that station (like, in shopping centres etc). I always wondered if there was some kind of deal that stations had where they didn’t have to pay anything for playing certain songs, which might explain why they got played every couple of hours.

I haven’t listened to local radio in years but I can still imagine DJs going ‘next we have the news, but coming up after that we have Del Amitri and Amy Grant’ and I’ve tried googling but never found out why.

super-niche topic, but any ideas?

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Went to Power In the Park once. Somebody we had taken with us walked off and got lost for a few hours. My dad was not happy. Apparently they did it on purpose as they didn’t like my dad.

As for your question. No idea.


Worth remembering that all commercial stations run a self-selecting top 40 that includes airplay

This means that if DJs reckoned a track like Roll To Me was good and played it, it would rise higher in the charts so seem more popular.

I doubt there is any arrangement. It would be somewhat self defeating if there was as it isn’t as if people hear Bonnie Tyler and such out for the CD. I would think it more likely that they think they know their target audience (places of work), and their listeners don’t actually care much what gets played.

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No. Stations pay a blanket PRS/mcps license fee based on their TSA (audience size). This covers playing any song.

Songs are usually heavily tested with groups of people and if they test well they get played (a lot)

There are definitely cases where new tracks are played more because stations are in with a label (ie universal) playing their artists usually secures interviews with bigger artists on the rosta or gig tickets for giveaways etc.



Do you remember the panning on that song? I think all the vocals and instruments were either panned 100% left of 100% right. Really unpleasant!

I’ve noticed you get the same, incredibly random songs, repeatedly playing in different supermarkets. Presumably they must buy in to some sort of service and it always feels like they are sort of second or third tier hits, often from the 80s.