How To Monitor Radio Airplay

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: Is there a way for independent bands and musicians to monitor the airplay that their music is getting on radio?

Answer: Technology is finally making it possible for bands, songwriters and publishers to track their music's airplay.

Tracking Airplay

Tracking the airplay of individual songs has been an extremely difficult proposition. Just think about the number of places music is's simply staggering! There used to be no way for even a large multi-national corporation to keep track of all of the times a song was heard somewhere (even just on broadcast radio). Now with digital finger-printing technology, it has become possible to track which songs are being played, how many times a day and by whom.

MediaGuide and Radio Wave Monitor

New services, like MediaGuide and Radio Wave Monitor are able to track the performances of music in their database, automatically. In order for your music to be tracked, you must first upload the recordings being used in the marketplace to the databases of these tracking companies. Once your music is uploaded, a digital finger-print is made of the song. (You don't need to have the song digitally watermarked, the finger-printing process is done automatically by the MediaGuide service) Each time one of your songs gets picked up, it's automatically tracked! If you subscribe to these services, you can view the results yourself! (ASCAP is currently offering a discount for subscription to the MediaGuide service).

ASCAP Is Leading The Way

ASCAP started with the MediaGuide Service to help get a more "exact" figure of what music was being played where. Prior to this, all of the tracking of songs was done by sampling of radio stations in certain markets and radio station logs. They then plugged the numbers into an algorithm and did their best to estimate how much a song was getting played (and therefore how much to pay the publishers and songwriters). Although ASCAP still relies on some of these other methods of tracking, the MediaGuide service allows them to get better quality numbers to get a more reliable account of which songs are being played.

Keeping Track Of The Music Broadcasts

The way that the music is even picked up, is simply amazing. MediaGuide uses special radio and television receivers, that are able to listen to just about all the stations in a particular market. The fingerprints of songs in their database are then matched. Hooked up to a network, these receivers send the information to a central database to be processed and tracked.

Tracking Digital Markets

Much in the same way that broadcast radio and tv is being tracked, online broadcasts and satellite broadcasts are starting to be tracked as well.