Consultant Tips

Garry Mitchell is President of ComQuest, a company specializing in music testing for radio stations for more than 12-years. For nearly 20-years prior to founding ComQuest, Mitchell programmed and consulted at over 30 stations, and is on the Allied Van Lines lifetime Christmas card recipient list.

by Garry Mitchell

As many stations prepare to field their next AMT after the first of the year, here are some time-tested ideas that can help you get the most from your next music test.

1. Include the same song hook twice, spaced evenly apart from each other within the test. Comparing the scores of each hook helps you benchmark the margin of error for the test (and also measure fatigue onset, if you're not rotating the song order for each respondent).

2. Include a hook from a totally obscure, unfamiliar song somewhere in the test. This "control song" helps benchmark the reliability of your music test results.

3. Be sure to re-screen each respondent prior to beginning the music test. Not only will this isolate respondents that may have been improperly recruited, but some people's top-of-mind radio recall varies week to week, and may now differ from what they said on the phone a week or so ago during the recruitment stage.

4. Offer as many options as possible to capture burn and fatigue. While a simple yes/no burn question for each song will help identify the truly tired songs at the very top of the list, those in the middle part of the ranker will not be so clear. A scale of 5, or even 3, burn options is much preferred, and provides more "shades of gray".

5. Create a mini-cluster (or "pod") of songs in the test that best represent the sound of your station, as well as a pod for your direct competitor(s). Compare and contrast the song results from your music test against the scores of these pods, as well as isolating high-scoring respondents of these pods, and reviewing their scores for all other songs in your test.

Copyright 2004 The All Access Music Group