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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

Hit Songs That Were Not Hit Songs (and aren't heard today)

Ahh... "paper adds"

It has been fun to follow these Radio Insight articles that look at "hit" songs that aren't played on radio anymore from Sean Ross author of the Ross on Radio newsletter and VP of music and programming at Edison Research.

To my ears (and many others) some songs just had their time and don't sound great now.

Songs from the 70's 80's 90's 00's on radio now have for the most part survived the test of time and the test of listener panels!

A reason why some songs from the past aren't played now is that maybe they were never really hit songs even if they were on the charts. Until 1992 radio could "add" a song to their playlist and the weekly trades would go with it and it would be on the charts.

Did it get played on the air? Yes most of the time but sometimes not.

Why would they do that? Well I was never high up on the totem pole but I do believe the phone calls (no email) went like this

record promoter - "if you could just give the song an add even a paper add this week I can..."

Why was a paper add any good if the station didn't play it on the air? Because other stations would see the trade weekly reports and the more stations that added a song to their playlist the more other stations would figure they better play it. Nobody knew if it got played or not.

The only time I heard of it first hand was pressure on The Quake to add Foreigner "I Want To Know What Love Is."

The promoter was looking to get 100% of the stations he delt with to add it the first week the single came out. He probably had a huge bonus coming if he could pull it off.

We didn't add it on air or give it a paper add. It would have been pretty clear it wasn't real for an alternative Rock Of The 80's station since everyone could see the songs you added that week listed in various trade magazines.

Did The Quake ever play it? Maybe but I don't remember playing it. I know it didn't get the add the first week.

The paper adds all started to go away in 1992 when Billboard went to computer monitored airplay tracking for the Hot 100 and it is now a thing of the past.

I hadn't thought about paper adds for a long time until reading this.

That's why some of these "hits" were never heard by listeners then or now!

This all got me to thinking about how songs get on the iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube recommended list that are curated for us. Or songs on a Sirius/XM Pandora etc stream.

Are there any manipulations behind the scenes happening there to get a song in front of us or played on a stream more frequently?

I don't know but I have a guess :)

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