May 14, 2021

How to navigate too much music

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By Todd Stach, Beyond The 615, From All Access

  • The amount of new music being released is no joke. You really do have too much music to listen to for potential song adds. Consider it a blessing. Too much music isn’t a problem; it’s an opportunity. There are so many songs that can fit nicely into your radio station’s mission and DNA.At the end of this article, you can read 5 ways to help you feel less overwhelmed. But first, here’s some amazing advice from three PD’s. I asked each to answer this question:“How are you handling the backload of great songs that should be added sooner than later?”


    The same as any other time, just with more intentionality – to the point of mapping out adds several weeks in advance instead of just knowing what’s next. It’s never going to be possible to get to them all, so then it becomes a matter of getting to the best songs for my station and it often takes every tool at my disposal to make those decisions. Some of those are:Prayer. For a format that desires to connect the listener to Jesus, it has to start with prayer. Every week as I listen to new music, I’m asking God to give me wisdom and show me what He has for our listeners. It really does help, and I believe God wants to partner with us for success. It starts by seeking Him.TSL. Nothing replaces good ‘ol time spent listening! In our insanely busy lives, it can be a challenge to find enough time to spend with new music but listening to the songs that are going for adds over and over and over and in as many places possible is key. I listen critically, but also try to listen like a listener. Listen with my heart and allow them to move me. And don’t dismiss a song just because it’s from a new or unknown artist or label.Prioritize. Prioritize all the songs that are going for adds. Whether that’s done in iTunes, Spotify, an Excel spreadsheet. Find a way that works for you to prioritize the songs and easily move them around as needed.Know your audience. If you’re regularly researching your music and paying attention to what really moves the needle for your listener, sometimes that’s all it takes to give one song an edge over another.Balance. It helps to pay attention to the flow and feel of your currents as well as overall sound of the station. What have I added lately? Are they leaning slow? Too many up-tempo? Not enough songs that emotionally connect? Too worship-y, pop, rock, or country? Too many currents with a similar theme like fear, grace, etc.? Keep an ear on the landscape of the station so it doesn’t end up sounding unbalanced.Other tools I regularly use:
    Troy Research National Testing and made available via CMB.
    Planning Center streaming/consumption data for worship songs.
    Using the charts to know how many stations are on a song. I like to export Mediabase data to Excel where I can work with it.
    Pre-testing songs, while it has its pitfalls, can be a valuable indicator.
    Talking to other PD/MD’s can help identify songs I might be missing.


    CCM finds itself in an amazing position with so much incredible talent. That hasn’t always been the case for our format.When I took over the programming at Life 88.5 (KJNW) they were rotating a total of 10 currents (5 heavy/5 medium). For a format that did not offer the amount of new music that others like Top 40 and Country did, that made sense.Add to the growth of our industry the global pandemic. That gave ALL artists nothing but time to write and produce new music (and certainly plenty of content to write about). In any given week, I have a solid list of 5-7 titles that aren’t just considers but have hit potential. At best, we may have room for 1-2 adds.With all the changes, it’s important to remember the number of hours to fill each week has not changed. No one will turn a station off for a song they aren’t familiar with yet. This ‘problem’ is a good problem. Our on-air product is just full of hits that connect that they LOVE.What we did was expand the current library and added a deep Stay/Recurrent list. Currently, there are 21 Currents (5 Heavy, 9 Medium and 7 Light). The Stay Current category allows for songs that begin to have excessive spins counts, yet still are testing strongly to continue be heard. Additionally, it opens room for more newer titles. When adds do open up, the decision is not as simple as adding the next best hit, but also balancing the sound and texture of the station. Because of that, it’s not uncommon to ‘miss’ a song from time to time. Kansas City is a very competitive market in CCM. If we see heavy spin counts on other’s playlists, we have no problem testing those songs to see about adding them later to recurrent etc. if our listeners know it, love it and we missed it.


    The first thing I try to remember is that the listener always comes first, and they’re still gonna come to our station for the songs they know and love… so putting ANY other agenda ahead of that is dangerous. That might mean setting an expectation with your label partners that you might not be able to get to everything.Second, I find that this is where a Post-Current or Super Recurrent category can come in handy… it can be a place to put songs that feel like they’re just never gonna slow down. A category like this still turns over frequently, so those big songs are getting plenty of exposure, but you’re creating an opening on your playlist to move something in that is proving itself on other stations.

    Thank you, Ryan, Melony and Matt. Final thoughts:Here are 5 ways to help you feel less overwhelmed.

    1. Listen to songs like it’s your full-time job.
    2. Divide the playlist up into three sections: future adds, songs I love, songs I like.
    3. Listen actively, passively, and listen in different locations (car, work, walk, home).
    4. Move songs up, down and off of your playlist constantly.
    5. Be honest with the radio promoters asking you for your feedback.
  • I hope this has encouraged you. If you would like to talk, I would be honored to help build confidence in you, your team, and your brand. Together, we can grow the greatest message and the greatest songs Beyond the (615) and into your local community.

    Todd is the Christian Format Editor at as well as the Owner of a Consulting & Coaching service at He helps build confidence where people feel unsure.

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