FiveThirtyEight Tries to Define Classic Rock, But Misses Sirius XM Channels

FiveThirtyEight.com, a website that's part of ESPN Internet Ventures, is one of the coolest sites on the Internet for data geeks. They constantly come up with articles that pique my imagination.

Today they published an article which says that classic rock isn't what it used to be, citing data compiled from "25 classic rock radio stations operating in 30 of the country's largest metropolitan areas for a week in June".

This is a fantastic article, in part because the author, Walt Hickey, built a scraper written in Python to compile the data from public play lists. I have to look back at this data set and get further into how he obtained it.

What I think is missing, however, is data from what gets played on Sirius XM. I think that what they play on Classic Rewind, Classic Vinyl, and Deep Tracks at the very least, should be the counted in a survey like this. I think these channels are as free as possible from the "regional influence" that Walt Hickey discusses about half-way through the article.

Some people also pointed out in comments that Classic Rock isn't a genre so much as it's a radio format. They argue, while the play list changes periodically, based on "some consultant's idea of what does or does not fit this month", the constant is reptition of some timeless classic songs combined with some songs that are better considered flavors of the month.

My kids listen to Sirius XM channels like these when they are travelling with me. But they also listen to 80s on 8, 1st Wave, and Hair Nation, because I think these channels are worth playing at different times of the day. I've become a bit of a classic rock junkie in that respect.