Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: How to predict hits using teenage girls

Predicting if a song is going to be a hit is a fool’s business because you never, ever know what the public might go for. But that hasn’t stopped record labels from gathering data on the popularity of a certain song.

As far as we can tell, the first time there was any market research on the viability of a song was in 1959 when a couple of American promoters sent out a questionnaire to 3,000 girls about their musical tastes and preferences in hopes of gathering enough data to write the perfect pop song that would soar up the charts. It didn’t work.

But then there was Bernie Lowe who ran a label called Cameo Parkway back in the early 60s. He played test records for his teenage daughter and between 1961 and 1973 she correctly predicted seventeen top 10 hits, including three number-one records.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38165 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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