In radio broadcasting, airplay is how frequently a song is being played on radio stations. A song which is being played several times every day (spins) would have a significant amount of airplay.[1][2] Music which became very popular on jukeboxes, in nightclubs and at discotheques between the 1940s and 1960s would also have airplay.

A radio DJ playing music


For commercial broadcasting, airplay is usually the result of being placed into rotation, also called adding it to the station's playlist by the music director, possibly as the result of a Pay for Play sponsored by the record label.[3][4] For student radio and other community radio or indie radio stations, it is often the selection by each disc jockey, usually at the suggestion of a music director.[citation needed]


Most countries have at least one radio airplay chart in existence, although larger countries such as Canada, the United States,[5] the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia,[1] Japan, and Brazil have several, to cover different genres and areas of the country.[6][7][8]

A song which was successful in the airplay charts but weak in sales was commonly known as a "turntable hit" when radio stations played only vinyl singles.[9] Airplay can be a crucial element in securing a singer's 'hit', and alongside social networking websites it is an effective method that artists use to make their name known.[5][10]

Aaliyah's "Try Again" (2000) was the first song ever to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on the strength of its radio airplay.[11]

Radio airplay is monitored through audio fingerprinting technology with the help of automatic content recognition service. World recognizable music airplay service providers are Radiomonitor, ACRCloud, BMAT, and Soundcharts.[citation needed]


  1. "Aussie acts buck airplay snub". 21 April 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  2. Sharbutt, Jay (10 December 1977). "Sunday's Billboard music awards: Records sales, airplay the key". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. p. TV9. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  3. Abbott, Jim (19 December 1998). "Radio deal puts spin on airplay". Orlando Sentinel. p. C1. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  4. Leeds, Jeff (27 December 2001). "Middlemen Put Price on Airplay". Los Angeles Times. p. C1. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  5. DeKnock, Jan (6 August 1986). "Billboard's numbers game can make or break a record". Chicago Tribune. p. 3. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  6. "Sales and airplay decide what counts as a hit". USA Today. 24 October 1994. p. 4D. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  7. Barnes, Ken (3 January 2002). "Country rules on the radio; There's not a Britney in this airplay bunch". USA Today. p. D1. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  8. Trevett, Claire (15 March 2006). "New Zealand music achieves record level of local airplay". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  9. Posniak, Alan (2 October 1968). "Badger Beat: Wisconsin Bands and Combos". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved 26 February 2010. Consequently, what we ended up with was a turntable hit (so called because it received lots of play on disk jockeys' record turntables).
  10. DeKnock, Jan (17 July 1992). "The case of the airplay-poor hits". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  11. Ramirez, Erika (25 August 2011). "Aaliyah's Top 10 Billboard Hits". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 25 August 2011.