For the last month, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” has been flooding radio airwaves. Yesterday, for example, I was riding in a friend’s car and it was playing simultaneously on two different stations. Neither of us have any gripes with this particular song (we’re both actually quite fond of the track), but hearing this prompted us to ponder: How many times can you hear a song before getting sick of it?

Now, there are several variables at play here –  The timeframe in which you may hear it; the qualities of the individual song; and heck, if you even LIKE the song to begin with.

Many research studies on song familiarity, favorability, and burnout have been published, largely geared towards radio programming strategies, but the principles translate into designing for the retail space, too. These articles and surveys analyze the correlation between how many times a listener may hear a song before favorability and/or burnout occurs.

For example, store associates hear a brand’s program for hours on end each week. While we want to maintain a large enough program to avoid a burnout effect (which can have adverse effects on associate productivity), we also need to maintain a tight core sound for the brand. In the retail space, I’ve noticed that burnout seems to happen most rapidly with Top-40 hits. A client may request a song, and then ask that it be “retired” from the program within weeks. Why? Because employees are sick of hearing it.

Back in the car, my friend and I bantered about certain songs we swear we could NEVER get sick of, and those of which we couldn’t bear to hear ever again. We also acknowledged that it’s possible to like a song, yet still be tired of hearing it. We agreed that personally, it’s a song-by-song assessment, but that over-saturated radio hits were the first to go.

My personal iTunes library tells me that my “Most Played” tracks have play counts of 147, 104, and 97. If my math is right, collectively these top 3 songs have been the soundtrack to at least 18 hours of my life. You’d think I would have been tired of these songs long ago – but do I still get excited when these come on? Every time.

– Submitted by Carly Grimm, Music Design