What happened to XMs' playlists?

v1ru5

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Oct 24, 2008
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I've noticed that on the music channels I listen to I know every song played. There was a time (pre-merger) where I would hear songs by known artists that I have never heard before. It seem now that Sirius has forced their hits only top 40 programming on XM. What Sirius calls obscure music is one of the things that brought me over to XM from Sirius. I KNEW Sirius was gonna' fuck up XMs' playlists post merger.
 

goreds2

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Oct 14, 2008
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It seem now that Sirius has forced their hits only top 40 programming on XM. What Sirius calls obscure music is one of the things that brought me over to XM from Sirius. I KNEW Sirius was gonna' fuck up XMs' playlists post merger.

You predicted correctly. :(
 

DAB

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Oct 9, 2008
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Everyone knew when this merger took place that the narrow hits based playlist would eventually cover both services since the music is being programmed through Sirius XM.

This is not surprising, they key here is listening to a wide variety of genres. I guess I am blessed in that I like most genres and so moving around through various channels in the course of a day allows me to get a decent variety.
 

IdRatherBeSkiing

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Oct 11, 2008
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I've noticed that on the music channels I listen to I know every song played. There was a time (pre-merger) where I would hear songs by known artists that I have never heard before. It seem now that Sirius has forced their hits only top 40 programming on XM. What Sirius calls obscure music is one of the things that brought me over to XM from Sirius. I KNEW Sirius was gonna' fuck up XMs' playlists post merger.

The change on XM started long before the merger. Zeller has never been a wide playlist type of guy. When the merger happened, it got tighter. The good news is that it is not as tight as Sirius pre-merger was on most of the channels. But yes, XM is dead. Long live Sirius XM.
 

v1ru5

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Oct 24, 2008
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Harrisburg PA.
Everyone knew when this merger took place that the narrow hits based playlist would eventually cover both services since the music is being programmed through Sirius XM.

This is not surprising, they key here is listening to a wide variety of genres. I guess I am blessed in that I like most genres and so moving around through various channels in the course of a day allows me to get a decent variety.
I guess I am limiting myself because I hate Hip-Hop but not the old skool HH and most of this new pop stuff I can't stand that's why Sirius should have left XMs' playlists alone especially the R&B channels and the decade channels mainly the 60's & 70's and the classic rock channels.
 

limegrass69

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Oct 12, 2008
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I'm not saying I agree, but I think it's more of a "mainstreaming" of the product. It's more of a radio mentality.

It's been shown time and time again in terrestrial radio.

There are a lot of people who tell you that they like lots of variety and low repetition. But the reality is that obscure songs actually turn off listeners and lead to dial twisting. That's why you hear the same 300 songs on your local classic rock station. They tend to eschew the deep cuts and stick to the ones that test well.

One could argue that the reason people buy satellite radio is for the variety, but I guess Sirius/XM's testing has shown otherwise. I really don't think that they would intentionally narrow playlists at the expense of pissing off listeners. They must have done their homework and realized that in (many cases) familiarity is what the majority of listeners want.
There are obvious exceptions to that rule, but those are more channel related, rather than a overall programming philosophy.

If you are service trying to build mass appeal, it's probably a good strategy. I would guess that research would tell you that anyone who has truly eclectic tastes would probably not do a lot of listening to a mass market product like radio. They are using other products and services.
 

shabadoo25

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Oct 12, 2008
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I think their marketing strategy, as it is, is about appealing to baby boomers and late age gen x-ers. As a rule, they want to hear music they recognize and not obscurities.

The gen y-er has likely already abandoned satrad and moved on to Slacker or Pandora.
 

shabadoo25

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Obscurities is one of the things that attracted me to XM. Thank god for WBGO-FM on Saturday mornings.

That strategy worked so well they ended up getting bought out by baby brother.

There are definitely those that like it, but not enough to sustain the business model, apparently.
 

limegrass69

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Obscurities is one of the things that attracted me to XM. Thank god for WBGO-FM on Saturday mornings.

And I agree that there is a place for niche programming.
But to sustain a mass market product like radio (or satellite radio), you need a core of mass appeal product.
 

shabadoo25

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And I agree that there is a place for niche programming.
But to sustain a mass market product like radio (or satellite radio), you need a core of mass appeal product.

I think there's a way to do both. There's so little difference between the classic rock channels that you could have one be deeper than the other.

Yes, I know all about Deep Tracks, but that's too obscure for me.
 

HecticArt

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Oct 19, 2008
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I liked the depth that XM had, but it was a little too deep to listen to all day.
One of the reasons that I picked Sirius was because I knew a lot of the tunes.
Post merger, I swear they were playing a deeper variety than Sirius was playing pre-merger. But now it really seems like the play list is a LOT smaller than it was pre-merger.

I would love more variety again.
 

shabadoo25

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Oct 12, 2008
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I liked the depth that XM had, but it was a little too deep to listen to all day.
One of the reasons that I picked Sirius was because I knew a lot of the tunes.
Post merger, I swear they were playing a deeper variety than Sirius was playing pre-merger. But now it really seems like the play list is a LOT smaller than it was pre-merger.

I would love more variety again.

I can't speak of the whole continuum of that time, but I am listening to XM music, mostly classic rock, all day at work now. During those hours, I am finding a lot of variety that I wasn't expecting. Certainly more than the pre-merger Sirius had.

I think that XM has adopted the "iPod shuffle with sprinkle" programming pattern. Lots of big hits with an album cut thrown in here and there.
 

geosync

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Oct 13, 2008
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The hip hop stuff as far as the daily rotation is slimmed down post merger. Fortunately the mix shows at night keep the obscure stuff and new material available. Unfortunately a lot of those good shows start later in the evening for all you east coasters, but is on at good times for us west coasters. We all have to remember most of the satellite listeners are 20-30 minute interval audiences, so if they hear a few songs they know mixed with a new song, or a deeper album cut then they're pleased as punch. It's only us all day listeners that get pissed at the smaller playlists.
 

DAB

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Oct 9, 2008
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Obscurities is one of the things that attracted me to XM. Thank god for WBGO-FM on Saturday mornings.

I agree and I think there should be a number of channels that offer niche programming or at least wider playlist rather than channels with 300 songs being repeated over and over.

That strategy worked so well they ended up getting bought out by baby brother.

There are definitely those that like it, but not enough to sustain the business model, apparently.

Programming had nothing whatsoever to do with this! The fact is both services tried to do too much too quickly while in competition. This merger was about financial issues, not programming.

XM had more subscribers even as of the merger and that without a Howard Stern, that says alot about what people thought of their programming.
 

shabadoo25

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I agree and I think there should be a number of channels that offer niche programming or at least wider playlist rather than channels with 300 songs being repeated over and over.



Programming had nothing whatsoever to do with this! The fact is both services tried to do too much too quickly while in competition. This merger was about financial issues, not programming.

XM had more subscribers even as of the merger and that without a Howard Stern, that says alot about what people thought of their programming.

Well the financial issues could be tied back to the programming. HS was undoubtedly part of the reason that Sirius almost caught XM in subscriber totals, but the obscure playlist could have been a problem, too.
 

DAB

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Oct 9, 2008
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Well the financial issues could be tied back to the programming. HS was undoubtedly part of the reason that Sirius almost caught XM in subscriber totals, but the obscure playlist could have been a problem, too.

I disagree, I don't think their playlist were that obscure, I think their playlist were just wider. Yes they had a couple of channel that played some pretty obscure stuff, sort of like Sirius Disorder did, which by the way Sirius did way with too even though it was a very popular channel.

Stern kept Sirius in the ballgame, but XM was built around the music and interactive DJ's and they were continuing to grow though not at the pace of Sirius for several quarters because of Stern. However the last two financials prior to the merger they were dead even in adds, so I don't buy that obscure playlist played a role in XM being bought out by Sirius. This was an agreed to arrangement between the two CEO's and approved by their board to end the massive bleeding both were experiencing.
 

shabadoo25

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Eh, it's all how you look at it. XM wasted millions on "talent" like Oprah, which produced 0.0 subs. For everyone who liked XM's wide playlists, 2 people cancelled because they never heard music they recognized.

All of that kind of stuff contributed to "massive bleeding."
 

DAB

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Oct 9, 2008
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Eh, it's all how you look at it. XM wasted millions on "talent" like Oprah, which produced 0.0 subs. For everyone who liked XM's wide playlists, 2 people cancelled because they never heard music they recognized.

All of that kind of stuff contributed to "massive bleeding."

I think that is pure speculation on your part honestly! You have nothing to verify that whatsoever! XM churn was the same as Sirius's, so how does that play into your suggestion because it doesn't add up in reality. So those that subscribed were pretty damn happy with the playlist. I'd go as far as to say that most of the heavy churn that they've recently experienced was because they gutted most of XM programming. Speculation on my part, but clearly this merger has cost them 1.8 million subs so far I would bet most of it has been on the XM side. Which says to me that a lot of those canceled because they hated what Sirius did to the music channels.

The bleed was financial because of content! XM was not the only one that had content that was over paid and with little or no return. Martha, how many subs you think she brought in? I can bet you that Oprah delivered more than Martha! The bottom line is they both over spent at a time when they shouldn't have been and this caused the whole industry to almost go bankrupt. This wasn't just about XM's poor management not even close. Sirius needed this merger every bit as bad as XM. Mel would have sold his mother to get this deal done!

The fact is that we had two sat radio services that were very different in their music philosophy. You have those that prefer wider playlist with interactive DJ's vs, auto pilot narrow hits based playlist. The difference was the reason I was a dual subscriber. I liked the differences in the way these services were programmed. Because you'd hear music on XM you didn't hear on Sirius and when you wanted to hear nothing but hits, Sirius was it. Also if you look back on various forums, you'll see many Sirius subscribers constantly complain about shallow playlist. Yet on the XM forums, you never seen many complain much about the playlist. You'd hear Sirius subscribers say they didn't like XM's deeper playlist and you'd hear XM subscribers say they didn't like Sirius's shallow hits based playlist.
 

limegrass69

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Oct 12, 2008
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I think XM's wider footprint really boiled down to more "in dash" exposure through their GM and Honda deals. XM was pretty much in every GM car and truck for years. The aggressive Sirius marketing with Ford came along later. There are not too many people (we are talking about music here) who really cared all that much if there was a Sirius or XM radio in their dashboards. To the average music listener, Satellite Radio is more of a utility.

It may be different for certain talk or sports programming (i.e. Stern, MLB, NFL, etc.) who needed to actively select a provider based on their exclusive content. But let's face it...for 95% of people, Classic Rock is Classic Rock, 80s is 80s, etc. I find it hard to believe that the AVERAGE person was willing to go out of the way to pull a Sirius unit for an XM unit because of their deeper playlists.

I also think a lot of the recent churn has to do with the poor economy, poor auto sales, and the recent price increases/surcharges. Some people got fed up.

We are talking the mass market here. Not the relative few like all of us who hang on forums like this and obsess over playlists, and whatnot.