You’ve Come A Long Way Baby!

Music testing in the digital age

By Andy Beaubien, BPR

In the “old days” music testing was rather tedious and complex. The most frequently used methodologies were the AMT (auditorium music testing) and telephone callout.

AMT’s allowed the testing of large numbers of songs in one session. Respondents were invited to a specific location for an evening of listening to song hooks and then rating each song. The process of testing music by AMT was plagued by a number of variables. Respondents recruited by telephone would often not show up at the designated session. Weather and local events such as a football game could drastically affect attendance. At any stage of the process (from respondent recruitment to completion of the event itself) AMT’s presented difficulties.

Telephone callout was the earliest form of music testing. Individuals were contacted by telephone and asked to listen to song hooks via the telephone. However, the number of titles that could be tested in any given session was usually limited to a maximum of 30 songs. One of the biggest drawbacks of telephone callout was the audio quality of the music played over the telephone. Due to time restrictions, respondents were only allowed to listen to each song hook one time and the process left little time for delay. In the course of an hour, each interviewer was able to complete only a limited number of interviews. In other words, they were very time consuming and in the research world time costs money.

Thanks to Internet technology and the prevalence of tablets and smart phones, we are now able to conduct music testing on-line. Respondents are usually easier to recruit because they are already familiar with Internet-based survey technology and the digital environment is part of their daily experience. In years past, on-line technology was the province of a minority of tech savvy individuals who had access to the Internet. Today on-line is the new normal and the best way to connect with persons of all ages. It is now easier to get someone to participate in digitally-based activities than by any other means of communication. Younger consumers in particular are now reachable primarily by digital media. With each passing year, digital communication appeals to an increasingly broader demographic range.

Many music fans now get music from Internet-based sources. So why not test your music in the same place where listeners access their music?  For stations that test current music, the ability to test song familiarity and chart the lifecycle of a song is greatly enhanced with on-line music tests. Other methods are simply too slow to actually measure song and artist trends.


Audio quality is also a plus because digital technology allows for high bit-rate transmission and many people now have the ability to listen to audio via earbuds and portable speakers. Respondents no longer have to complete the survey in one session but can do so at a time and place of their own choosing. Additionally, on-line music testing offers the possibility of randomizing the songs in a single study whereas previous forms of music testing such as ATM required each respondent to hear the songs in the same order (god help the songs placed at the end!). With on-line testing, data is collected and sorted instantaneously and can be delivered to the client in a very short amount of time.

The reliability of research has always been directly related to the simplicity and efficiency of the methodology. On line music testing such as conducted by BPR’s myradiotest division has been proven to be highly reliable.


For more information about BPR’s myradiotest program visit



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